Anti-vaccination movement affecting youth in Europe

Vaccination 2018

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms. Blanca Paniello, student in Biomedicine in Barcelona, Spain and Ms. Viktoria Kastner, medical student in Wuerzburg, Germany. They form part of the Standing Committee on Public Health Regional Assistants for Europe of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and don’t necessarily reflect neither IFMSA’s nor The European Sting’s view on the topic.


Vaccination has become an increasingly important topic in European public health, as the current state of vaccination coverage has led to multiple disease outbreaks, such as the current measles outbreak with thousands of deaths, despite measles previously being considered eliminated.

A continuing anti-vaccination movement could lead to worse progression of diseases, such as influenza, and consequently also increase the number of deaths, not only of measles, but other preventable diseases, too. In order to improve this situation, collaboration on different levels is needed, including the impact of politics on public health but also taking into account the fear of individuals, especially younger generations.  

In Europe there is a new supranational recommendation by the European Commission to “strengthen European Union cooperation on vaccine-preventable diseases” (1) in order to tackle vaccine hesitancy, align vaccination schedules and improve research. Unfortunately, this is not always well received as there is a growing anti-vaccination movement.

This movement is different than other social groupings as it consists of a gathering of individuals who are both religious and secular, as well as influenced and unpersuaded in belief. Despite the root cause of their opinion, one huge combined movement, convinced that vaccination can cause more harm than it does good, evolved. This heterogeneity makes it so difficult to fight against the spreading of the anti-vaccination movement.

But what about the youth? What is their belief concerning this public health issue?

Nowadays, modern medicine and technology play an important role in this social problem. The increasing amount of accessible information via the internet has led to rapid dissemination of myths, misunderstanding and thus miseducation, what many would label “fake news”.

Andrew Wakefield, a well-known anti-vaccine activist claiming that the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism, whose medical license was withdrawn because of his falsified and scaremongering ‘research’, and people like the model Jenny McCarthy – who alleges that people are dying from vaccinations – can strongly influence the shapeable opinion of young people and the general population. Therefore it is not surprising that after searching for “vaccination” and “immunization” on Google, 43% of websites are about anti-vaccination. This has led to growing incredulity, lack of confidence and complacency among the European youth.

We are currently facing new obstacles in public health, where misinformation – facilitated by the fast spread of information – is putting people at ever growing risk of previously irrelevant infections. In order to improve the current situation, we need to educate young people about vaccinations and their benefits, such as herd immunity.

In addition to that the spread of wrong information has to be mitigated and ensured that the right information is shared across social media and is made readily available on reputable and trustworthy sources on the internet. Tackling fake news and misinformation is something all healthcare professionals can contribute to and tackle this huge (and growing) issue together.

References

  1. Kieslich, Katharina: “Addressing vaccination hesitancy in Europe: a case study in state-society relations.” The European Journal of Public Health. 28(Suppl 3): 30–33 (2018).
  2. https://ec.europa.eu/health/vaccination/overview_en
  3. Hussain A, Ali S, Ahmed M, et al. The Anti-vaccination Movement: A Regression in Modern Medicine. Cureus 10(7): 1-8 (2018)
  4. Beck, A. Issues in the anti-vaccination movement in England. Medical History, 4 (4), 310-321.
  5. Vrdelja  M. et al.The growing vaccine hesitancy: exploring the influence of the internet
  6. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/23/young-people-sceptical-vaccinations-getting-worse/

About the authors

Viktoria Kastner and Blanca Paniello have both been engaging in the field of public health in IFMSA for several years. Viktoria studies Medicine in Wuerzburg (Germany) and Blanca is completing her degree in Biomedicine in Barcelona (Spain). Both aim to work in global health, dedicating their efforts to achieve universal, sustainable, high-quality healthcare for all.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The teaching of Palliative Care for future health professionals and its inclusion in Universal Coverage Health

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: 195 countries adopt the First Universal Climate Agreement

SPB TV @ MWC14: The TV of the Future

Shaping the Conference on the Future of Europe

Unemployment is down across the world’s largest economies

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

Afghanistan: EU reinforces humanitarian support with €40 million as crisis worsens

Several crises in one: what effects will COVID-19 have on the global risk landscape?

These countries are all building brand-new cities

Coronavirus is creating retirement insecurity. These 10 steps can diffuse the timebomb of an ageing population

Lessons from dealing with the collapse of Lehman Brothers

Even in the world’s richest countries, kids might not have what they need to learn at home

Challenges facing the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns

5 ways to boost sustainable trade in the world’s poorest countries

COVID-19 and indigenous peoples in Brazil: a neglected population and the importance of the vaccine

Syria’s Idlib ‘on the brink’ of a nightmare, humanitarian chiefs warn, launching global solidarity campaign

7 steps to make electricity systems more resilient to climate risks

Z, V or ‘Nike swoosh’ – what shape will the COVID-19 recession take?

How AI is shaping financial services

Deadly swine fever threatens Asia, UN agriculture agency warns, urging regional collaboration

Reading this alone? Recent surveys reveal the curious truth about loneliness

OECD survey reveals many people unhappy with public services and benefits

The ethical dilemmas of medicine

Girls still being treated as aliens in medicine in the 21st century

MEPs call for the protection of fundamental values in the EU and worldwide

6 women of history who shaped the world, from a Hawaiian queen to a Chinese empress

Asylum Seeker Accommodation and Mental Health

Around 600,000 Afghan children face death through malnutrition without emergency funds: UNICEF

10 expert predictions for the next decade in Chinese AI

Developed and developing financial markets are more similar than you think. Here’s why

Von der Leyen on Europe Day: What does Europe mean to me and why is solidarity more valid than ever

The EU prepares for the end of LIBOR: the Commission welcomes the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council on financial benchmarks

Multilateralism must weather ‘challenges of today and tomorrow’ Guterres tells Paris Peace Forum

China-EU Trade and Economic Relations in Numbers

Parliament boosts consumer rights online and offline

If this is Globalization 4.0, what were the other three?

Towards a stronger and more resilient Schengen area

Dreaming of China

Germany and Europe prepare for Trump’s America

As Alan Turing makes the £50 note, how do countries design their currencies?

Is continuous sanctioning the way to resolve the Ukrainian crisis?

EU Summit/Migration: Parliament calls for joint solutions based on solidarity

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

Why forensic science is in crisis and how we can fix it

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

How the US should react to the pandemic, according to Bill Gates

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights marks its 10th anniversary

Here are three ways Africa’s youth are defeating corruption

daniela-runchi-jade-president__

A Sting Exclusive: “Education in Europe, fostering skills development inside and outside the school system”

EU budget: the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020

Europe divided: 30 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall

What the future holds for the EU – China relations?

UN launches new fund to advance sustainable development in Aral Sea region

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: List of Recent Climate Funding Announcements

Human rights defenders, too often left defenceless themselves – UN expert

Health worker´s empathy and their power to change the world

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

UN spotlights digitization of audiovisual archives to preserve human history on World Day

State aid: Commission approves €1.1 billion Polish scheme to further support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

The feminisation of medicine and persistence of stereotypes

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: