Anti-vaccination: a private choice leading to collective outcomes

Vaccination 2019

A baby gets polio drops in Uganda (UNICEF, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms. Maha Mezouar is a 2nd year medical student in Marrakech, Morocco. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect neither IFMSA’s nor The European Sting’s view on the topic.


The Anti-vaccination movement can be considered as old as vaccinations themselves. A substantial amount of vaccine hesitancy has been remarkably spreading throughout the past centuries among individuals in different communities without a truly based information about vaccination’s none efficiency or danger. This phenomenon is considered as one of the consequences of the emergence of a new paradigm of health care where the power has shifted from doctors to patients, the legitimacy of science is questioned, and where expertise is redefined.

The main theoretical structures of anti-vaccination ideology are: vaccines cause idiopathic illness, vaccine immunity is temporary and an alternative healthy lifestyle, personal hygiene and diet stop diseases. These stereotypes make some parents overemphasize the immediate side effects of a vaccine: rash, swelling, or pain. They then justify these side effects as a valid reason to avoid vaccination. This is a much attenuated level of hesitancy but can be a gateway to under-immunization, delays, and further questioning.

Some other common concerns focus on the number of vaccines currently mandated. In particular, the aspects relating to the short interval between doses, simultaneous administration, immune system intolerance, and the proposed fast approval of newer vaccines.

Thus, two studies conducted in La Sierra University, California, identified four Anti-vaccination attitudes: mistrust of vaccine benefit, worries about unforeseen future effects, concerns about commercial profiteering, and preference for natural immunity. These four factors reflect differences in concerns about vaccination and how one’s body might react to substances recommended by health care providers. They might look logically valid from an intellectual perspective; however, they are not supported by medical research, they are mostly a non-evidence-based opinions obtained from internet and TV rather than from health care professionals.

It has also been reported that the negative behavior toward vaccination are clustered by race, education, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Parents with lowest income and education level express greater concern regarding the need for and the unwanted effects of vaccines.

In 2014, a large measles outbreak swept through the Disneyland theme park in California, resulting in an estimated 125 people contracting the disease. Several of the children who initially spread the disease were intentionally left unvaccinated by their parents.

Multiple breakouts of measles, one of the most notable “eliminated” diseases, have occurred in many countries especially in the western world, infecting dozens of patients and even causing deaths.

Undoubtedly, organized anti-vaccination groups have contributed to the drop in vaccination compliance and anxieties concerning vaccination; and doing so they did not only put them at risk, but also made the individuals around them and their communities more exposed to some diseases that can be prevented by vaccination.  For instance, some British parents refused to vaccinate their children in the 1970s and 1980s against pertussis in response to the publication of a report in 1974 that credited 36 negative neurological reactions to the whole-cell pertussis vaccine. This caused a pertussis outbreak in the UK. A few decades after, a study showed that Pertussis incidence was 10 to 100 times lower in countries where high vaccine coverage was maintained than in countries where immunization programs were compromised by anti-vaccine movements. Given the safety and cost-effectiveness of whole-cell pertussis vaccines, far from being obsolete, these vaccines continue to have an important role in global immunization.  In addition to this, the schedule of pediatric vaccines given to a hypothetical cohort of 4 million children born in 2009 will prevent approximately 20 million illnesses and 42 thousand deaths over that cohort’s lifetime.

“We tend to assume that all people need is more information and the data alone will save the day,” Sara Gorman, a public health and behavioral science expert, said during her presentation at TEDMED 2017. This statement urges public health officials and physicians to providing more evidence-based vaccine information and statistics, and to spend more time familiarizing populations with the benefits and risks of immunization, as well as with potentially devastating consequences of the lack of vaccination consent.

There is also a need for educational campaigns to prevent a decrease in the percentage of vaccination and optimally to make it even higher. Owing crucial role of health care professional in enforcing parental vaccination consent, all medical university students should possess adequate knowledge regarding potential benefits and risks of vaccination, to be able to address all parental concerns. However, the efforts to weaken this movement can only be effective by  firstly recognizing its disingenuous claims, evaluating the information and misinformation encountered and then introducing slowly the fact that vaccines and the realization of their compulsory scheduling are highly studied, safe, and purposeful.

About the author             

Maha Mezouar is a 2 nd year medical student in Marrakech, Morocco. She has been a member of IFMSA Morocco since 2017. She likes writing, and so this year she applied to be a publication assistant in her NMO; she writes articles for the website and the annual magazine “I’m SPIRIT”. Along with being a medical student, she spends most of her time doing sensiblization actions in order to raise awareness about public health, human rights and sexual education.              

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

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

Benefits of rural migration effect often overlooked, new UN report suggests

Politicization of migrant ‘crisis’ in Hungary making them scapegoats, independent UN human rights expert warns

What do the economic woes of Turkey, Argentina and Indonesia have in common?

Latvian economy is thriving, but boosting productivity, improving social protection and transitioning to a low-carbon productive model are vital for sustainable and inclusive growth

EU elections: The louder the threats and the doomsaying the heavier the weight of the vote

Bundestag kick starts the next episode of the Greek tragedy

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

Concern rising over fate of Rohingya refugees sent home by India: UNHCR

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

We don’t need to ban plastic. We just need to start using it properly

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

Eurozone stuck in a high risk deflation area; Draghi expects further price plunge

EU-Japan trade agreement enters into force

UN agency chief calls Ethiopia’s revised refugee law ‘one of most progressive’ in Africa

Digital transformation and the rise of the ‘superjob’

The next Google in biotech: will it be Chinese?

DR Congo: efforts to control Ebola epidemic continue, UN food relief agency doubles assistance to affected people

Amsterdam is getting a 3D-printed bridge

I cycled over 6,000km across the United States to document climate change. Here’s what I learned

3 ways to fight stress at work

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

Technology can help us end the scourge of modern slavery. Here’s how

Saudi Arabia, China, among 14 nations under UN human rights spotlight: what you need to know

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

France is building a village for people with Alzheimer’s

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century

“Leaked” TTIP document breaks post 8th negotiations round silence and opens door to critics

‘Crippling to our credibility’ that number of women peacekeepers is so low: UN chief

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

This app lets you plant trees to fight deforestation

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

Eurozone: Even good statistics mean deeper recession

The EU Commission vies to screen Chinese investment in Europe

With security improving in DR Congo’s Kasai, thousands of refugees head home from Angola

Partnerships key to taking landlocked countries out of poverty: UN Chief

These are the world’s 20 most dynamic cities

Biggest London City Banks ready to move core European operations to Frankfurt or Dublin?

New Erasmus: more opportunities for disadvantaged youth

What is digital equality? An interview with Nanjira Sambuli

‘Race against time’ to help women who bore brunt of Cyclone Idai: UN reproductive health agency

At UN, Cuba slams US ‘criminal’ practices undermining country’s development

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

Migrant workers sent more money to India than any other country last year

Security Council condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ attack in Iran

Opening – Parliament expresses support for victims of Fuego volcano in Guatemala

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

This is what the world’s CEOs really think of AI

COP21 Breaking News: “We must accelerate the process”, Laurent Fabius cries out from Paris

Migrant caravan: UN agency helping ‘exhausted’ people home

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘Mandatory food labelling Non-Vegetarian / Vegetarian / Vegan’ initiative’

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