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.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

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

Nagasaki is ‘a global inspiration’ for peace, UN chief says marking 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing

Malaysia can show the way towards a holistic model for human rights

Rohingya cannot become ‘forgotten victims,’ says UN chief urging world to step up support

6 facts to know about EU alternative investment funds

What washing your hands can teach you about global change

Here’s why the tech sector could be the next target for Chinese investment in Africa

New UN rights report paints bleak picture in eastern DR Congo

The unpleasant truth of plastic straws

Guterres hails historic Convention banning violence and harassment at work

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: funding for Palestine refugees, families today, tech surveillance

This man is sleeping out in the Davos cold to make a point about homelessness

Future-proofing the European banking market – removing the obstacles to exit

This graphene battery can recharge itself to provide unlimited clean energy

Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc

Around 23 million boys have married before reaching 15; ‘we can end this violation’ says UNICEF chief

How smarter machines can make us smarter humans

EU budget: Regional Development and Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

This NATO experiment used fake Facebook accounts to trick soldiers into sharing sensitive information

The remote doctor, can it ever work?

UN agency warns conditions around Yemen’s key port city of Hudaydah still ‘very bad’, as staff rush to deliver aid

Mediterranean and Black Seas: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2020

UN and Red Cross chiefs appeal for end to use of explosive weapons in cities

The Junior Enterprise concept: Business & Education

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Commission: Raising the social issues that can make or break the monetary union

Impact investment favours expats over African entrepreneurs. Here’s how to fix that

5G networks: to slice or not to slice?

Who should pay for workers to be reskilled?

‘Antagonistic gestures and accusations’ drown out Kosovo dialogue hopes, Security Council hears

Aid stepped up to Syria camp; new arrivals say terrorists blocked their escape

From UN Assembly podium, Central African Republic leader appeals for lifting arms embargo

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

A ship with containers at the port of Rotterdam. (Copyright: European Union. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service. Photo: Robert Meerding)

US follows the EU in impeding China market economy status in WTO

Poland: €676 million worth of EU investments in better rails and roads

Blockchain is becoming key for global trade – but is that a gift for hackers?

UN chief pays tribute to ‘enduring contributions’ to regional, international diplomacy of Oman’s late Sultan Qaboos

It’s getting harder to move data abroad. Here’s why it matters and what we can do

European Court rules that ECB’s OMT program of 2012 is OK; not a word from Germany about returning the Greek 2010 courtesy

UN ‘stands in solidarity’ with cyclone-hit India – Secretary-General Guterres

As fighting in Libya escalates, so does number of children ‘at imminent risk of injury or death’

Somalis ‘will not be deterred’ by Friday’s terror attacks – UN chief

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

The experience economy is booming, but it must benefit everyone

EU Summit consumed by the banks

Yemen: Recent uptick in fighting contradicts desire for peace

100 years after Polish independence, 5 reasons to be cheerful for the future

GSMA head urges regulators to help Europe regain leadership

Taxes on polluting fuels are too low to encourage a shift to low-carbon alternatives

Mergers: Commission approves Assa Abloy’s acquisition of Agta Record, subject to conditions

EU humanitarian budget for 2020 to help people in over 80 countries

Meet the robot fighting back against coral reef destruction

From philanthropy to profit: how clean energy is kickstarting sustainable development in East Africa

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

These are the world’s healthiest nations

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Why the answer to a more sustainable future could lie within the platform economy

Youth Entrepreneurship Issue of the month: JEN, organisers of JADE October Meeting, on why JEs should come together

‘No-deal’ Brexit preparedness: European Commission takes stock of preparations and provides practical guidance to ensure coordinated EU approach

Paris, Rome, Brussels and Frankfurt to confront Berlin over growth and the Athens enigma

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