COVID-19 Vaccination Campaigngs: anti-vaccine movement is still a challenge

(Markus Spiske, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Catherine Veloso Correia, 19 years old, a third-year medical student at Mogi das Cruzes University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 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 IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The relevance of vaccination to prevent a lot of diseases is proven and known worldwide. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the biggest world health crisis of the century, a lot of institutions and companies have invested in research to develop vaccines, once it is considered one of the most effective prevention methods. Despite the scientific evidence, the anti-vaccine movement is getting bigger proportions and requires a reflection about its origins and consequences on public health.

Historically, one event that had a global repercussion was the publication of an article in 1998, that postulated an association between the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) and autism, in a famous scientific journal. It was developed by a group coordinated by Andrew Wakefield, and later, he lost his medical register in the UK, and the article was retracted. However, the false information was already spread and persists even nowadays, reinforcing this phenomenon called “fake news” and increasing the vaccination hesitancy.  

This scenario brings out an important point about the anti-vaccine movement discussion: the belief that personal judgment or information widely shared on the internet has more value than scientific facts. The negationism about scientific evidence is a common reaction in many people when science refutes previous convictions they had. This explains why it is a popular belief that the vaccine’s risks are high, when studies show that it is safe and prevents complications or even the mortality caused by the Coronavirus. Additionally when fake news is shared on social media, it can be easily accessed by people that have similar thoughts, and then it reaches significant proportions and makes it harder for the population to distinguish false information from real facts.

Another commonly misunderstood concept is that vaccination is an individual choice and only affects oneself, when in fact it is also a social contract.  A high vaccinal coverage is essential to control the pandemic, so if one person decides not to be immunized, there is a risk of being infected and transmitting the virus to more people. Therefore, the awareness about the impact of the vaccine on collective health is an important factor.

In this context, it is possible to assume that the anti-vaccine movement has an historical and cultural origin, and the vaccinal hesitancy is even more increased by the growing number of fake news spread on the internet recently. The most powerful tool to combat anti-vaccine movement impacts is investing in information, effective communication with scientific evidence and accessible language to the population, and also leverage the awareness about social responsibility of vaccination, since the vaccine can bring to the society not only immunization, but hope for a healthier and better life.

REFERENCES:

RAO, T.S; Andrade C. The MMR vaccine and autism: Sensation, refutation, retraction, and fraud. Indian J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;53(2):95-6. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.82529. PMID: 21772639; PMCID: PMC3136032.

ROCHEL DE CAMARGO JR, K. Here we go again: the reemergence of anti-vaccine activism on the Internet. Cad. Saúde Pública,  Rio de Janeiro ,  v. 36, supl. 2,  e00037620,    2020 .   Available from <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-311X2020001403001&lng=en&nrm=iso> . access on  21  Jan.  2021.  Epub Aug 31, 2020.  https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311×00037620.

SUCCI, R.C.M. Vaccine refusal – what we need to know. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.),  Porto Alegre ,  v. 94, n. 6, p. 574-581,  Dec.  2018 .   Available from <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0021-75572018000600574&lng=en&nrm=iso> . access on  20  Jan.  2021.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jped.2018.01.008.

About the author

Catherine Veloso Correia, 19 years old, is a third-year medical student at Mogi das Cruzes University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is vice-president of the “Academic League of Infectology”, and she is part of the management team of two other academic leagues, “Obstetrics and Gynecology” and “Pediatrics”.  She acts as a LSG in the International Federation of Medical Students Associations Brazil UMC. She strongly believes that immunization is a collective contract for health, and that “no one will be safe until everyone is safe”, as Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said

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

Over 330,000 Congolese migrants at risk after mass deportations from Angola – UN rights chief

Digital democracy: a Swiss view on digital trust

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

Nike’s hands-free shoe is a step forward for inclusive clothing

Coronaviruses: the truth against the myths

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

Inclusion, equality a must for ‘long-lasting peace and sustainable development’, UN official tells high-level event in Baku

Medical ethics in the age of the social media influencers

Wide-ranging reforms needed to ensure Italy’s economic recovery

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Sydney is choking on record levels of smog – and the bushfire season is just getting started

Mobile technology, a necessary pearl in developing countries

Medicines from the sky: how drones can save lives

New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

Iraq needs support to ‘leave violent past behind’, says UN envoy as Security Council extends UN mission for one year

Investing in education and skills can improve the health of both humans and planet. Here’s why

Business leaders join UN to rev up sustainable development investments

Canada and EU officially sign the trade agreement that could open-up the road to TTIP

Burkina Faso: Dozens killed in clashes, UN chief condemns attacks

Visa Facilitation and Readmission: the European Union and Belarus sign agreements

These cities score an ‘A’ for environmental action – but hundreds more are falling behind

New seat projections for the next European Parliament

Mental health in a pandemic: what to do to ease the burden on people with disabilities?

A Sting Exclusive: “Infrastructure can lay the groundwork for the Sustainable Development Goals” by Mr Fulai Sheng, UN Environment Senior Economist

Measuring consumer confidence isn’t useful anymore. Here’s what we should do instead

Health Education, is it a necessity?

EU boosts sustainable cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon

Returning to free movement across borders is of utmost importance

The Chinese film boom luring Hollywood’s stars

Human trafficking: stronger measures to protect women, children and migrants

Coronavirus: Commission proposes to provide €81.4 billion in financial support for 15 Member States under SURE

UN condemns Syrian ‘war on children’ as up to 30 reportedly killed in clashes

MEPs demand Bulgaria’s and Romania’s swift accession to Schengen area

Inflation and interest rates indicate urgent need for action

A Sting Exclusive: “Asia-Pacific response to COVID-19 and climate emergency must build a resilient and sustainable future”, by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General

“Unequivocal support” for the people of Bulgaria in their legitimate demands

Commission threatens Chinese firms with trade penalties

Young health workforce – a core of effective primary healthcare?

‘Countless opportunities’ for new people-centred workplace, but ‘decisive action’ critical

If airlines were a country they’d be one of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

Sustainable Development Summit: ‘We must step up our efforts – now’, Guterres declares

Aid convoy for north-east Syria postponed over security concerns – UN relief chief

EU Youth Report casts stark light on life for young Europeans

Coronavirus: the Commission approves third contract to ensure access to a potential vaccine

EU Copyright Directive: Google News threatens to leave Europe while media startups increasingly worry

Corruption thwarts attempts to build a better world and ‘must be fought by all, for all’

India is now the world’s 5th largest economy

This tool shows you which cities will flood as ice sheets melt

Turkey: Extension of EU humanitarian programmes supporting 1.7 million refugees receives green light

Europe faces economic turmoil as Italy gets closer to the Excessive Debt Procedure

This is why obesity is classified as a type of malnutrition

These 5 start-ups are shaping the future of Africa’s cities

4 solutions for reducing emissions from industrial clusters

Community Manager – 1289

How privacy tech is redefining the data economy

The Brits are not an exception and that’s why they voted to leave

3 principles to reinforce digital trust in supply chains

Future of Insurance Claims in Focus at Fourth Annual Connected Claims Europe Summit

At this ‘critical moment’, UN chief urges anti-corruption conference to adopt united front

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