Health professionals have stated that modern immunization programs are facing increasing challenges as people stall or refuse to accept vaccines for themselves and also for their children.
This creates special challenges for nations that have the goal of closing the vaccination gap. Around the world, one out of every five children has not received routine vaccinations. Approximately 1.5 million children die every year from illnesses that the World Health Organization (WHO) believes can be prevented with vaccines.
“Vaccines can only improve health and prevent deaths if they are used, and immunization programs must be able to achieve and sustain high vaccine uptake rates,” Dr. Philippe Duclos, senior health adviser for WHO’s Immunization, Vaccines and Biological Department and guest editor of the special issue, entitled WHO recommendations regarding vaccine hesitancy, said. “Vaccine hesitancy is an increasingly important issue for country immunization programs.”
The WHO and other health professionals are discussing how to solve vaccine hesitancy, which is limiting vaccine coverage. It is a complicated topic that is context specific, as it alters according to place, time and vaccines. Health professionals believe that the main culprits are complacency, misinformation, confidence and convenience.
“As the recent Ebola crisis tragically brought to light, engaging with communities and persuading individuals to change their habits and behaviors is a lynchpin of public health success,” the authors of the journal said. “Addressing vaccine hesitancy is no different.”
Further details are available in the journal Vaccine, which published a special issue to discuss the topic.