Vaccine confidence volatile, vulnerable to misinformation, global study finds
LONDON (Reuters) – Political polarization and online misinformation are threatening vaccination programs worldwide, with public trust volatile and varying widely between countries, according to a global vaccine confidence study.
The study, which maps trends in vaccine confidence across 149 countries between 2015 and 2019, found that scepticism about the safety of vaccines tended to grow alongside political instability and religious extremism.
“It is vital with new and emerging disease threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that we regularly monitor public attitudes,” said Heidi Larson, a professor at the London school of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who led the research.
“Perceptions about vaccines are much more volatile than they used to be,” she told a briefing. “Overall, there’s a lot of confidence in the world about vaccines. But don’t take it for granted. Confidence goes up and down … it’s highly variable.”
Published in the Lancet medical journal, Larson’s findings are based on data from more than 284,000 adults asked in 2019 whether they see vaccines as important, safe and effective.