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Addressing the Vaccine Confidence Gap

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Unversity of Washington (Seattle)

Abstract and Figures

Vaccines--often lauded as one of the greatest public health interventions--are losing public confidence. Some vaccine experts have referred to this decline in confidence as a crisis. We discuss some of the characteristics of the changing global environment that are contributing to increased public questioning of vaccines, and outline some of the specific determinants of public trust. Public decision making related to vaccine acceptance is neither driven by scientific nor economic evidence alone, but is also driven by a mix of psychological, sociocultural, and political factors, all of which need to be understood and taken into account by policy and other decision makers. Public trust in vaccines is highly variable and building trust depends on understanding perceptions of vaccines and vaccine risks, historical experiences, religious or political affiliations, and socioeconomic status. Although provision of accurate, scientifically based evidence on the risk-benefit ratios of vaccines is crucial, it is not enough to redress the gap between current levels of public confidence in vaccines and levels of trust needed to ensure adequate and sustained vaccine coverage. We call for more research not just on individual determinants of public trust, but on what mix of factors are most likely to sustain public trust. The vaccine community demands rigorous evidence on vaccine efficacy and safety and technical and operational feasibility when introducing a new vaccine, but has been negligent in demanding equally rigorous research to understand the psychological, social, and political factors that affect public trust in vaccines.
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526 Vol 378 August 6, 2011
Lancet 2011; 378: 526–35
Published Online
June 9, 2011
See Comment Lancet 2011:
378: 296, 298, and 382
This is the fi fth in a Series of
ve papers about the new
decade of vaccines
Department of Infectious
Disease Epidemiology, London
School of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, London, UK
(H J Larson PhD); Department
of Paediatrics, College of
Physicians and Surgeons,
Columbia University,
New York, NY, USA
(Prof L Z Cooper MD); National
Institute for Health and
Welfare (THL), Helsinki,
Finland (J Eskola MD);
Department of Paediatrics,
Duke University, Durham, NC,
USA (Prof S L Katz MD);
Government Aff airs and
Policy, Johnson & Johnson,
New Brunswick, NJ, USA;
(S Ratzan MD); and Journal
New Decade of Vaccines 5
Addressing the vaccine confi dence gap
Heidi J Larson, Louis Z Cooper, Juhani Eskola, Samuel L Katz, Scott Ratzan
Vaccines—often lauded as one of the greatest public health interventions—are losing public confi dence. Some vaccine
experts have referred to this decline in confi dence as a crisis. We discuss some of the characteristics of the changing
global environment that are contributing to increased public questioning of vaccines, and outline some of the specifi c
determinants of public trust. Public decision making related to vaccine acceptance is neither driven by scientifi c nor
economic evidence alone, but is also driven by a mix of psychological, sociocultural, and political factors, all of which
need to be understood and taken into account by policy and other decision makers. Public trust in vaccines is highly
variable and building trust depends on understanding perceptions of vaccines and vaccine risks, historical experiences,
religious or political affi liations, and socioeconomic status. Although provision of accurate, scientifi cally based evidence
on the risk–benefi t ratios of vaccines is crucial, it is not enough to redress the gap between current levels of public
confi dence in vaccines and levels of trust needed to ensure adequate and sustained vaccine coverage. We call for more
research not just on individual determinants of public trust, but on what mix of factors are most likely to sustain public
trust. The vaccine community demands rigorous evidence on vaccine effi cacy and safety and technical and operational
feasibility when introducing a new vaccine, but has been negligent in demanding equally rigorous research to
understand the psychological, social, and political factors that aff ect public trust in vaccines.
Tremendous progress has been made in the development
of new vaccines, along with increasing access to new and
underused vaccines in the lowest income countries. But,
vaccines—often lauded as one of the greatest public
health interventions—are losing public confi dence. Some
vaccine experts describe the problem as a “crisis of public
confi dence”1 and a “vaccination backlash”.2
Public concerns about vaccine safety and vaccine
legislation are as old as vaccines themselves—dating
back to the anticompulsory vaccination league against
mandated smallpox vaccination in the mid-1800s.3,4 Some
common concerns shared by the antivaccination groups
of the 1800s and those of today are related primarily to
arguments against mandated vaccination, or imposed
vaccine schedules. But current antivaccination groups
have new levels of global reach and infl uence, empowered
by the internet5 and social networking capacities allowing
like minds to rapidly self-organise transnationally,
whether for or against vaccines.6 These groups reach
people who are not necessarily against vaccines, but who
are seeking answers to questions about vaccine safety,
vaccine schedules, changing policies, and the relevance
of some new, and old, vaccines. Vaccines evoke concerns
diff erent from other health interventions because many
healthy people need to be vaccinated to achieve a
protective public health benefi t.
Several factors drive public questions and concerns:
perceptions of business and fi nancial motives of the
vaccine industry and their perceived pressures on
public institutions—such as during the H1N1 infl uenza
response; coincidental rather than causal adverse events
that are perceived as vaccine related; challenges in
manage ment and communication of uncertainty about
risks7 (including serious, albeit rare, ones); less risk
tolerance for vaccines given to those who are healthy
than for drugs given to treat an illness; scepticism of
scientifi c truths, which later become untruths, or
amended truths as new research becomes available;8
elitism of a group of people that believe they should not
risk vaccination of their child if enough other children
are being vaccinated; and, in some cases, outright non-
acceptance of scientifi c evidence such as in the case of
antivaccine movements that persist in the belief that
autism can be caused by thiomersal or the measles,
Key messages
Public concerns about vaccines are not merely about vaccine safety, but are also about
vaccine policies and recommendations, vaccine costs, and new research fi ndings.
Public decision making related to vaccine acceptance is complex and is neither
driven by scientifi c nor economic evidence alone, but is also driven by a mix of
scientifi c, psychological, sociocultural, and political reasons, all of which need to be
better understood.
The internet and new forms of social media have not only allowed for rapid and
ubiquitous sharing of information—and misinformation—but have also allowed new
methods of self-organisation and empowerment of newly founded online
communities that argue against or for vaccines.
Although communication of positive, evidence-based information about the safety of
specifi c vaccines and their benefi t–risk ratios to the public is crucial, communication
alone will not stop public distrust and dissent against vaccines.
Levels of public trust in vaccines are highly variable and context specifi c. To sustain or
restore confi dence in vaccines, a thorough understanding is needed of the
population’s—or subpopulation’s—specifi c vaccine concerns, historical experiences,
religious or political affi liation, and socioeconomic status.
Core principles to be followed by all health providers, experts, health authorities,
policy makers, and politicians include: engagement with and listening to stakeholders,
being transparent about decision making, and being honest and open about
uncertainty and risks.
Series Vol 378 August 6, 2011
mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, despite an
abundance of scientifi c evidence that shows no
causal eff ect.9,10
Although communication of candid, evidence-based
information to the public about the safety of specifi c
vaccines and their benefi t–risk ratios is crucial, this
information alone will not stop public distrust and
dissent against vaccines. Public decision making related
to vaccine acceptance is not driven by scientifi c or
economic evidence alone, but is also driven by a mix of
scientifi c, economic, psychological, sociocultural, and
political factors, all of which need to be understood and
taken into account by policy and other decision makers.
We discuss factors in the changing global environment
that have precipitated what some in the specialty of
climate change call “an erosion of trust”,11 caused by a
small minority of climate change sceptics. The vaccine
community faces similar challenges. We examine key
determinants of trust, with specifi c examples in which
public distrust undermined vaccine acceptance and
interrupted immunisation programmes, and, then, what
was done to restore trust. Finally, we outline ways to
improve public trust including future research and
actions that can be taken now.
The changing global environment
Many proposed explanations exist as to why vaccines are
questioned by the public, what exactly is being questioned,
and what can be done to restore public confi dence. One
common perception is that waning public trust in
vaccines is because vaccines have become a victim of their
own success—whereby they have been so eff ective for
prevention of disease that more attention has now been
focused on the potential risks of vaccines than on the
risks of the now less prevalent diseases they prevent. In
high-income countries, lack of familiarity with vaccine-
preventable diseases is present in the health-care
community (eg, nurses, physicians, and others that
administer vaccines),6 many of whom are too young to
have seen these illnesses.
Increased public questioning of vaccines in low-
income countries, where vaccine preventable diseases
are still prevalent, point to other underlying reasons for
public distrust or dissent besides the absence of vaccine-
preventable disease (panel 1). These reasons can be
cultural, religious, or sometimes economic or political,
as in the case of the polio vaccination boycott in
northern Nigeria, where marginalised communities
asserted their voice by refusing or challenging
government-driven initiatives.15
Vaccine safety
Another perception is that vaccine safety is the primary
concern of the vaccine-questioning public. Although
vaccine safety is clearly important, and certainly the
most monitored and addressed concern by national
immunisation programmes and international organ-
isations such as WHO and UNICEF, safety is not the
only concern a growing number of individuals,
communities, and even governments have about
vaccines. Other concerns include aff ordability and
relevance of new vaccines in diff erent settings.
Furthermore, the issue of vaccine safety is now being
viewed in the framework of individual genetic
predispositions to harm, raising fears that adverse events
after immunisation are expressions of uncommon
genetic susceptibilities.16
Diversity of vaccines
In the past decade, the global vaccine industry has
mushroomed in terms of the number of companies
involved and products in development. From 1995
to 2008, the number of vaccine companies that sought
to create or manufacture vaccines doubled to 136, as
did the number of prophylactic vaccine products in
Panel 1: Framework for analysing the development of
public concerns about vaccines
Prompters of public concern
Adverse events after immunisation—generally, such events
that occur locally are stronger prompters of rumours, but an
event reported in a distant location is also a possible prompt;
publication of new research;12 new recommendations or policy
change (eg, removal of thiomersal from vaccines in the USA,
stopping hepatitis B vaccination in schools in France); new
products (ie, introduction of new product or change of current
product source or product packaging); political motivations
(ie, purposefully spreading rumours to undermine the
government, other providers, or producers of the vaccine)
Factors that sustain public concern
Global spread of vaccine-related rumours; frequency of
rumours (eg, occasional rumours vs persisting and
strengthening rumours); media reports that amplify any
prompter of public concern; historical bad experience that
lowers public trust (eg, Pfi zer’s Trovan trial was perceived to
cause childhood deaths in Nigeria, inadequate public
information about the bovine spongiform encephalopathy
outbreak in UK, dishonesty about HIV-infected blood supply
in France);13 socioeconomic marginalisation (ie, populations
that have historically been marginalised with lower access to
health services are less trusting of authorities); previous
existence of self-organised community groups that can
repurpose their experience to address vaccine concerns
(eg, women’s groups organised to question and stop human
papillomavirus vaccine project in India14)
Outcome and eff ects
Vaccine refusals (individual or group level); vaccine
withdrawal (this can be a prompter of rumours and a
consequence of rumours); vaccine-preventable disease
outbreaks (eg, measles, pertussis, poliomyelitis)
of Health Communication,
Washington, DC, USA
(S Ratzan)
Correspondence to:
Dr Heidi J Larson, London School
of Hygiene and Tropical
Medicine, Keppel Street,
London WC1E 7HT, UK
528 Vol 378 August 6, 2011
development to 354.17 The list of WHO prequalifi ed
vaccines now has 202 products from diff erent manu-
facturers targeted against 20 infectious agents,18 and the
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of vaccines
available for immunisation in the USA consists of
72 products.19 Most of these products are variations and
combinations of vaccines that have existed for years, and
thus are not really new, but the range certainly seems
complex and confusing to both recipients and providers
of vaccines.
Although the growing numbers of vaccines available or
in development is impressive, the diversity of vaccines—
including vaccines tailored to specifi c populations—has
also contributed to public questioning of vaccine choices
and the relevance of so many vaccines. Other concerns
have arisen about the ability of low-income countries to
aff ord the introduction of new vaccines, especially when
access to even the least expensive vaccines is inadequate.20
Vaccine schedules
As new vaccines are introduced, vaccine schedules
change. Schedules also vary across countries. These
changes and diff erences in vaccine schedules further
contribute to public questioning,1,21 In the WHO listing of
immunisation schedules by antigen and country,22 for
example, selection of a list of schedules for “tetanus and
diphtheria toxoid childrens’ dose” worldwide showed a
listing of 72 countries with 29 diff erent variations of
diphtheria and tetanus schedules. Explanations for these
programme diff erences include variations in the
epidemiological aspects of the diseases and in the
health-care fi nancing and delivery systems between the
countries. However, a substantial part of the variation
cannot be justifi ed on the basis of best public health
practice, and some public questioning is understandable.
New research
Public concerns can also emerge after publication of new
research, such as the 1994 publication by Talwar and
colleagues12 about an antipregnancy vaccine, in which the
mention of tetanus toxoid used as a carrier protein was
misinterpreted. A pro-life Catholic group, Human Life
International, consequently suggested that tetanus
vaccines could cause sterilisation, resulting in vaccine
scares in Mexico, the Philippines, Tanzania, and
Nicaragua. Concerns were also raised by the 1998
publication by Andrew Wakefi eld that proposed links
between the MMR vaccine, autism, and bowel disease.
Although the research was later retracted, Wakefi eld’s
misuse of that work—including statements in the press
conference that were not included in the published
report23—catalysed widespread fears, some of which
persist today.
Government policies
Policy choices or recommendations are also a key public
concern. Such choices that have prompted public debate
and aff ected public trust include: legislation requiring
vaccination for school entry; the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation in July, 1999, that
thiomersal be removed from childhood vaccines; and the
decision in France in 1998 to withdraw the hepatitis-B-
vaccination programme from schools.24
Public trust is challenged particularly when public
authorities disagree, such as was the case in 1998 when
the French Government suspended the use of the
hepatitis B vaccine, which went against the recom-
mendation of WHO and the viral hepatitis prevention
board (an expert committee convened by WHO).25 The
result of this decision was that 10 years after the temporary
vaccine suspension, three-dose vaccine coverage with
hepatitis B vaccine was still only 30%.26
Another example of such disagreement was the Japanese
Government’s decision to suspend the pneumococcal
conjugate vaccine Prevnar (Pfi zer, New York, NY, USA)
and the Haemophilus infl uenzae type b vaccine ActHIB
(Sanofi -Aventis, Bridgewater, NJ, USA), while investigating
suspected links of these vaccines with the death of four
children, which prompted widespread media coverage. A
Google search for “Japan” and “Prevnar” and “2011” on
April 7, 2011, 1 month after the vaccines were suspended,
showed more than 85 000 reports globally. Of the fi rst
100 results listed, only three were about the decision to
resume use of the vaccines on March 30, 2011; these three
reports were 45th, 91st, and 93rd in the list. When the
same search was done on WHO and CDC websites, no
information was avail able on either the suspension or
resumption of the two vaccines.
New media and horizontal communication
Democratisation movements and the advent of the
internet have changed the environment around vac cines
from top-down, expert-to-consumer (vertical) com-
munication towards non-hierarchical, dialogue-based
(horizontal) communication, through which the public
increasingly questions recommendations of experts and
public institutions on the basis of their own, often web-
based, research. Such public questioning is not unique
to vaccines, but part of a broader environment of
increasing public questioning and the emergence of
dissent groups, particularly in areas that include risks
such as climate change.
The internet, social media—which allows interactive
exchange between many users—and mobile phone
networks have shifted the methods and speed of com-
munication substantially, allowing information about
vaccines and immunisation to be gathered, analysed,
and used—especially through blogs—very diff erently
com pared with even a decade ago. The amount of
information available has increased greatly, including
scientifi cally valid data and evidence-based recom-
mendations alongside poor quality data, personal
opinions, and misinformation.
Series Vol 378 August 6, 2011
Media attempts to balance coverage by provision of
equal opportunity to all viewpoints exacerbates the
challenges to public confi dence in vaccines by allowing
outlier views and small extremist opinions the same
media space as views validated through a rigorous
process of peer review by the scientifi c community. This
disproportionate share of outlier views has been further
amplifi ed by celebrities—such as Jim Carrey or
Jenny McCarthy—who encourage parents to question
vaccines, often telling highly emotional stories of children
who were perceived to have been harmed by vaccines.27
The emergence of social media tools, such as Facebook
with more than 500 million users globally,28 has helped
create new methods of self-organisation and empower-
ment of newly founded virtual communities both locally
and across wide geographical areas, building constitu-
encies that argue against or for vaccines.29–31 Although
some of these networks have a national focus, they are
also quick to pick up and amplify events occurring in
other countries that support their cause.
The new mix of highly varied and often confl icting
information contributes to the scepticism of some
vaccine consumers. These views need to be far better
understood as they are developing, rather than when
vaccination rates start to decline because of distrust.
Determinants of public trust in vaccines
Public trust in vaccines is a complex issue that often
has many converging determinants. Research into
environmental-risk communication has identifi ed three
factors that aff ect the extent to which an individual or
institution is trusted: perceptions of knowledge and
expertise, openness and honesty, and concern and care.32
The credibility of vaccine information, for example, is
infl uenced by the perceived trustworthiness of the
messenger—whether a government authority, the
vaccine industry, a health provider, a friend or colleague,
or the media. To address persisting concerns about oral
polio vaccines causing sterilisation, especially in poorer,
marginalised Muslim populations in northern Nigeria
and Uttar Pradesh, India, WHO and the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative partners convened meetings with
the Organisation of Islamic States, as trusted inter-
mediaries or brokers with the public, to successfully
rebuild trust in the polio vaccine in their Muslim
constituencies. Similarly, when fears spread through
Catholic pro-life groups that the tetanus vaccine had
sterilising elements, WHO offi cials requested that the
Vatican choose the laboratory in which the vaccine was
tested, because it was a trusted institution for these
groups (Ciro de Quadros; Albert B. Sabin Vaccine
Institute, Washington, DC; personal communication).
Whether the public perceives new information about
vaccines as honest and not hiding information about
risks also aff ects public trust in vaccines. Similarly,
openness and transparency in decision making about
new vaccine policies or research processes can infl uence
the trust of the public or interest groups in the
population. The suspension of the human papillo-
mavirus vaccine demonstration project in India, in
April, 2010, is an example of the potential eff ect of
distrust, because of inadequate open dialogue with
groups who question the vaccine.14
Individual and group experiences also aff ect public
willingness to trust vaccines.13 Public trust of the inter-
nationally driven polio vaccination campaign in northern
Nigeria, for example, was undermined by Pfi zer’s trial of
the Trovan vaccine in northern Nigeria, because child
deaths were suspected to be linked to the trials.
The personal nature of a particular vaccine concern is
another determinant of trust, and can mean that
individuals or groups are overly trusting because of an
eagerness for an answer to their concern. In their search
for answers to questions such as “why does my child
have autism?”, individuals and groups might be willing
to trust information that is not scientifi cally proven if it
addresses their concerns.
To improve understanding and address determinants
of public trust in vaccines, and the potential eff ect of
these determinants, research is needed not only into
individual determinants of trust, but on understanding
what mix of factors is most likely to sustain, or damage,
public trust. Risk events, such as an adverse events after
immunisation, or even perceptions of risk, such as fears
of vaccines causing sterilisation or autism, can be
amplifi ed or attenuated, depending on how the event or
perception of the event is communicated to, and
interpreted by, individuals, institutions, or the media.33
Case studies
The following case studies describe examples of how
vaccine risk concerns were prompted and sustained by
individuals—from religious leaders to scientists and
health experts, governmental and non-governmental
institutions, religious and other interest groups, and the
media. The tipping point, whereby vaccines were refused
or programmes were disrupted because of fears, was due
to a convergence of events, creating a “social amplifi cation
of risk”.33
Thiomersal and autism
Thiomersal, a compound containing ethylmercury, has
been used to prevent bacterial contamination in
biologics since the 1930s. In 1997, the FDA noted that,
in view of the increasing number of vaccines given in
early infancy, the total amount of ethylmercury (as
thiomersal) might exceed the level set for methylmercury
by US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. In
a period of increasing concern about poisoning from
mercury in the environment, the AAP and CDC issued
a joint statement in 1999 asking vaccine makers to
remove thiomersal from childhood vaccines as soon as
practical.34 This statement, issued to show caution and
assure the safety of vaccines, paradoxically supported
530 Vol 378 August 6, 2011
the argument of those suggesting that vaccines were
contributing to what was called an epidemic of autism.
Public concern was fuelled by organised groups of
parents convinced that their children’s autism was
caused by mercury-containing vaccines, who prepared
to seek compensation through the US National Vaccine
Injury Compensation Program; a series of hearings by
the chair of an oversight committee in the US House of
Representatives who believed his own grandchildren
had been harmed by vaccines; and studies and
testimonials in public forums, by scientists and
celebrities who are now discredited.
Since 1999, many studies have failed to support any
causal relationship between thiomersal and autism.35,36
The absence of this compound from childhood vaccines
in the USA for almost a decade has not altered the
frequency of autism. After exhaustive review, no evidence
has been identifi ed by the vaccine court, a component of
the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or the
US Institute of Medicine to justify compensation of
claimants on the basis of thiomersal in vaccines.10
This case is an example of the perverse consequences
of application of the precautionary principle, which is
applied when there is scientifi c uncertainty and when
an intervention is deemed necessary before harm
occurs.37 The AAP and CDC joint statement showed the
transparency of vaccine policy, but it did not necessarily
earn trust from those convinced that vaccines are
harmful, and in fact prompted more questioning of the
safety of vaccines. Removal of thiomersal from
childhood vaccines in the USA also created tension
between the USA and global vaccine programmes,
especially in developing countries where direct vaccine
and logistical costs would be prohibitive if thiomersal
were removed and single-dose vaccines were instead
mandated. Additionally, removal of this compound
caused an unexpected temporary decline in rates of
hepatitis B vaccination in infants in the USA (fi gure 1).
However, the precautionary measure was based on
scientifi c evidence available at a given point in time and
a value system based on the best interests of the public.
Had a causal link between thiomersal and autism been
discovered, the recommended early removal of
thiomersal would have been lauded by the public.
Haemophilus infl uenzae type b vaccine in India
Similar tensions between experts occurred in India in
relation to introduction of the H infl uenzae type b
pentavalent vaccine combined with diphtheria, poliovirus,
and tetanus, and hepatitis B virus. Introduction of this
vaccine was challenged by Puliyel and colleagues,39,40 who
asserted that the disease burden in India did not justify
addition of the expensive vaccine.
Puliyel and colleagues also claimed that the disease
burden data were misrepresented by the GAVI Alliance
and WHO.41,42 Indian pediatricians contested their
assertions with evidence on the disease burden of
H infl uenzae type b in India, which they felt made a
compelling case for introduction of the vaccine against
this disease.43 Others accused Puliyel of leading an
antivaccination lobby.44
Puliyel and academic and government colleagues who
share his view reject the antivaccination label. In a
statement published in 2010, they wrote that “we are a
group of pediatricians, healthcare activists, teachers in
public health, and bureaucrats who have championed
Figure 1: Number of children who received the fi rst dose of hepatitis B vaccine less than 5 days after birth (USA, 1999–2000)
Data from the US Centres of Disease Control and Prevention’s morbidity and mortality weekly report.38
0 7 12 17 22 27 32 37 42 47 52 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
1999 2000
Week Week
Number of children receiving the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine
Joint statement issued regarding
thiomersal as a vaccine preservative
Number of children
Series Vol 378 August 6, 2011
universal immunisation in India throughout our
working lives”. They went on to note that they were
“taken aback” by the fact that their questioning of the
appropriateness of introducing the H infl uenzae type b
vaccine in India was misconstrued as a broad anti-
vaccination movement.31
Although introduction of the vaccine was endorsed by
WHO and the Indian National Immunization Technical
Advisory Group (INITAG), opposition from Puliyel and
colleagues led the Indian Health Ministry to stall
introduction of the vaccine. The Health Ministry
convened an independent expert group to re-examine
WHO and INITAG’s recom mendations. This group has
since concluded that the government should move
forward and accept the GAVI Alliance’s fi nancial support
to the Government of India to allow it to proceed with the
introduction of the vaccine. Nonetheless, the Indian
press picked up the debate and widely publicised Puliyel’s
concerns, which will probably not be forgotten.
MMR vaccine and autism
The public’s eagerness for answers to their felt needs is
another determinant of trust. Wakefi eld’s claims in 1998
that the MMR vaccine could cause autism was embraced
by parents who were eager to fi nd a reason for their
child’s autism. His suggestion that a single-antigen
measles vaccine should be considered as a safer
alternative to the MMR vaccine also gave the parents a
solution. When the then Prime Minister Tony Blair
refused to reveal whether his young son had been given
the MMR vaccine, Wakefi eld’s ndings seemed validated.
Although many subsequent studies failed to reproduce
Wakefi eld’s ndings,9 and his research paper was formally
retracted,45 the distrust generated around the MMR
vaccine contributed to declines in MMR vaccine coverage
and consequent measles outbreaks.46 Research done in
the UK by the Department of Health showed that overall
trust in the MMR vaccine has recovered at least in Britain,
where the controversy began.47 Wakefi eld continues
public speaking engagements internationally to per-
petuate his views by appealing to vaccine-sceptical
parents—even after being scientifi cally discredited. The
groups that still champion Wakefi eld’s views, especially
in the USA, are a stark example of the vulnerability of
public confi dence in vaccines.27,48,49
Tetanus vaccine and sterilisation
In the case of fears related to sterilisation caused by
tetanus vaccines in the early 1990s, a Catholic organisation
with membership in more than 60 countries, popular
media, religious and political leaders, and legislative
authorities converged to amplify perceived risks of
sterilisation associated with vaccination, which led to
reduced uptake of the tetanus vaccine and vaccine
programme disruptions.
In 1994, a research article on a birth control vaccine12
made reference to the use of tetanus toxoid as a carrier
protein. Although the birth control vaccine had no
relation with tetanus immunisation, it created a perceived
connection between tetanus vaccination and contraception
that travelled widely thoughout the internet; Human Life
International communicated this perceived connection
to their members in more than 60 countries. In the
Philippines, the tetanus vaccination campaign was
interrupted by a court injunction. The subsequent panic
led to a 45% drop in tetanus vaccination coverage
between 1994 and 1995.50 In Nicaragua, Catholic Cardinal
Obando, a member of Pro-vida, played a substantial part
in stopping the tetanus immunisation campaign in that
region.47 In Mexico, the Comite Pro-vida accused the
government of genocide, claiming that the tetanus
vaccine caused abortion. Although the damage caused by
these antivaccination campaigns has been largely
mitigated by proactive measures by the Pan American
Health Organization—through engagement with the
media and the Vatican—the notion that vaccines contain
sterilising substances periodically resurfaces, most
recently in the polio campaigns in Nigeria and India.51
Oral polio vaccine and sterilisation
In northern Nigeria, religious and political leaders, led
by the chairman of the Supreme Council for Sharia in
Nigeria, Datti Ahmed, boycotted the polio vaccine
in 2003, claiming that the oral polio vaccine was
contaminated with HIV and could also cause sterilisation
in those vaccinated, fuelling widespread public distrust.
Political and cultural disparities between northern and
southern Nigeria also infl uenced the willingness of the
people in the north to sign-up to a mandate thought to
be imposed by the head of state, and international health
bodies.15 Memories of the Trovan trial in 1996, during
which children died, were still vivid in the minds of
many, undermining their trust. Although subsequent
investigation did not attribute the children’s deaths to
the drug being tested, the trial was deemed illegal
because of unethical conduct.52 The legal proceedings of
the trial, which were undertaken in the northern state of
Kano, took place in the background of the polio
vaccination boycott.
The boycott of oral polio vaccination in Kano State
lasted 11 months and poliomyelitis cases in Nigeria rose
from a nadir of 56 in 2001 to 1143 in 2006. Spread of the
poliovirus in Nigeria led to outbreaks in 15 other sub-
Saharan nations,53 and spread as far as Indonesia where
303 cases were all traced to Nigeria.54
This boycott was a wake-up call to the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative on the need for better engagement
with both local leaders and aff ected communities. At the
60th World Health Assembly, a report on poliomyelitis55
called on member states to improve engagement with
local and national leaders and with aff ected communities.
Although calls for public engagement are not new, the
polio experience has prompted detailed, research-driven
communication and public engagement strategies.
532 Vol 378 August 6, 2011
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has done
extensive, block-by-block research in some settings to
understand who are locally trusted sources of vaccine
information and who are the trusted providers of
vaccines, and to understand the reasons behind vaccine
refusals.56 In Pakistan, research showed that some of
the public resistance was actually among health
workers, who felt underpaid and perceived the initiative
as being imposed from outside Pakistan, and was not
locally owned.57 Understanding how to build and restore
trust can only be addressed with research.58 In the case
of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the need for
improved understanding of specifi c public concerns
and reasons for distrust came only in the face of a crisis
of confi dence. The lesson learned was that not only is
research within the local communities needed, but that
it is needed early on in the planning of vaccination
programmes, well before a crisis occurs.
Eff ects of public distrust
Evidence about the eff ects of misinformation, rumours,
and antivaccine groups on vaccine coverage and
consequent disease outbreaks in many countries is well
documented. In addition to the polio, tetanus, and MMR
vaccine examples, increases in pertussis outbreaks have
occurred in Russia,59 Japan, the USA, Sweden, and
England and Wales after antivaccine activity.60 In France,
the political decision to suspend hepatitis B vaccines in
schools exacerbated public concerns associating
hepatitis B vaccines with autism, multiple sclerosis, and
leukaemia and led to low levels of hepatitis B vaccination.61
In the Ukraine, scares and negative public reaction to a
measles and rubella vaccination campaign led to
quarantining of the vaccine and suspension of the
campaign, which was targeting 7·5 million people, but
only reached 116 000.62
In all of these situations, management of the eff ects
of declines in vaccine uptake, consequent disease
outbreaks, and loss of public trust in the vaccines has
taken a toll on human and fi nancial resources in
addition to long-term reputational costs to individual
vaccines and immunisation programmes.
New methods of communication, dialogue, and
engagement are urgently needed across all vaccine stake-
holders—vaccine experts, scientists, industry, national
and international health organisations, policy makers,
politicians, health professionals, the media, and the public.
No single player can reverse the vaccine confi dence gap.
The way forward: who needs to do what?
The foregoing examples show that the process of
building, rebuilding, and sustaining public trust in
vaccines is highly variable and depends on a thorough
understanding of the community and its socioeconomic
status, previous experience, views of those they trust (and
distrust) including religious or political leaders, and
understanding of the risks and benefi ts of vaccines versus
the diseases they prevent.
Traditional principles and practices of vaccine com-
munication remain valid,63 especially those that ensure
timely and accurate communication of information
about where, when, and why vaccines are given, and
those that ensure mutual respect in health provider–
patient interaction. However, additional emphasis
should be placed on listening to the concerns and
understanding the perceptions of the public to inform
risk communication, and to incorporate public pers-
pectives in planning vaccine policies and programmes.
Figure 2: Research into who parents trust
Data were provided by David Salisbury (Department of Immunisation, Department of Health, UK). (A) Who parents trust to give advice about immunisation (2010);
data are for parents of children aged 0–4 years (n=1730). (B) Who parents trust to give advice about immunisation (2007–10); data are for parents of children aged
0–2 years (n=1142). GP=general practitioner. HV=health visitor. PN=practice nurse. NHS=national health service. *GP data gathered before 2007.
55% 55%
5% 3% 4%
34% 32%
39% 42%
24% 20% 19%
GP*, HV, or PN
Proportion of patients who strongly agree (%)
Strongly agree
Slightly agree
Proportion of patients (%)
GP, HV, or PN
Family or friends
Series Vol 378 August 6, 2011
To build public confi dence, it is key to understand
what drives public trust in each community,64–66 and
what are the local perceptions of vaccines and their
risks.1,67–72 According to a US National Research Council
report, risk communication “emphasizes the process of
exchanging information and opinion with the public”.73
Building public trust is not about telling them what they
need to understand better, and it is not merely about
being clearer or teaching parents about risk–benefi t
decision making. Trust is built through dialogue and
exchange of information and opinion. Valuable models
can be drawn from environmental-risk research, which
emphasise the importance of listening to public
concerns and can protect against simplistic solutions to
complex problems.74
Research is needed to understand who the public
trusts. The UK Department of Health, for example,
continues to monitor not only public perceptions of
diff erent vaccines, but also who the public trusts
(fi gure 2). Similar studies are in progress in academic
institutions75 and in the CDC.1 Such eff orts should be
encouraged and funded.
The immunisation enterprise is a complex matrix
involving academia, government, industry, private
clinicians and other health providers, and public-health
systems. Every one of these entities is vulnerable to
public mistrust. Improved communication, dialogue,
and trust-building across these entities is essential. The
private sector is very conscious of consumer confi dence
levels as a metric of success and acceptance of their
products. The public health community needs similar
attentiveness to ensure consumer confi dence if we are
to achieve the potential benefi ts of new and existing
vaccines (panel 2).
Vaccination is a complex social act that eff ects both direct,
perceived self-interest, the interest of one’s children, and
the broader community. The decision leading to
immunisation remains a personal summation of each
individual’s perception of the complexity of information
they receive and their trust in the institutions that
produce, legislate, and deliver vaccines. For vaccines to
realise their full potential in protection of health, public
and private health practices need to take into account the
range of social and political factors that aff ect the public’s
willingness to accept vaccines.
The immunisation community, including scientists,
policy makers, and health providers, needs to come to
terms with the reality that individuals and groups will
continue to question and refuse vaccines. Extremist
antivaccination groups whose minds will not change will
exist. Many people—the majority—who accept vaccines
could change their mind. The focus should be on building
and sustaining trust with those who accept and support
vaccines, while working to understand and address the
growing confi dence gap.
HJL, LZC, SLK, and JE outlined the report. HJL prepared the fi rst and
subsequent drafts with input from LZC, SLK, JE, SR. All authors read
and approved the fi nal draft.
Confl icts of interest
JE received funding from Novartis for a pneumococcal advisory meeting
and as a data and safety monitoring board member for meningococcal
and typhoid vaccines. SR edits the Journal of Health Communication, with
faculty appointments at Tufts School of Medicine and George Washington
School of Public Health and Health Services. SR contributed
independently of his principal employer, Johnson & Johnson. Some
technical work, travel (LZC and SLK), and meetings relevant to this work
were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding
organisation had no role in the drafting or direction of this report.
HJL declares that she has no confl icts of interest.
Panel 2: Actions needed
In view of the heterogeneity of populations, and the local
specifi city of vaccine concerns and trust relations,
strategies to build public trust need to be locally tailored
and not prescriptive in recommendations of what
specifi cally needs to be done by various stakeholders to
build confi dence in vaccines.
Evidence-based approaches used in risk communication76
should be adopted as core principles by all health providers,
experts, health authorities, policy makers, and politicians
when communicating information about vaccines. These
approaches include engagement with and listening to
stakeholders, and being transparent about decision
making, and honest and open about uncertainty and risks.
A systematic approach is needed to listen to public
concerns. As with infectious diseases, where surveillance is
essential for disease control, systematic monitoring of
dynamic and evolving vaccine rumours, concerns, and
refusals is crucial to guide prompt responses to build and
sustain public confi dence. Such a surveillance system is
being trialled at the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine.77
Decision and policy makers cannot assume what the
public wants without undertaking social science and
decision science research. The vaccine community
demands rigorous evidence for vaccine effi cacy and
safety and the technical and operational feasibility of
initiating a new vaccine initiative or introducing a new
vaccine, but have been negligent in demanding evidence
on the social and political feasibility of introducing new
vaccines and the factors that determine the local
acceptability of vaccines.
Models of multidisciplinary research for vaccine
introduction are emerging78,79 and need to be expanded.
These models include not only technical and operational
assessments, but also research into social and political
factors that need to be considered in planning the
introduction of vaccines. The Global Polio Eradication
Initiative has shown that monitoring of public concerns
needs to be continuous and responsive, and hand in hand
with the monitoring of technical strategies.54
534 Vol 378 August 6, 2011
HJL is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as principal
investigator for research on public confi dence in immunisation. The
ndings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do
not necessarily represent the offi cial position of their employers. We
thank David Salisbury for providing data for fi gure 2 and for useful
discussion on the paper; Anne Louise-Kinmonth for reviewing
subsquent drafts; and Pauline Brocard, Lee Barker, Caitlin Jarret,
Isaac Ghinai, Jay Dowle, Larry Madoff , Melissa Cumming, and
Louise Paushter for researching case studies.
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... 11 Accordingly, several studies have aimed to analyze the social-media-based vaccine movement and identify best practices and guidelines for increasing public trust in vaccines. 1,9,[12][13][14] Dhaliwal and Mannion 1 explored public perception of vaccination through analysis of social-media platforms, categorizing the obtained data into truth, consequences, and myths, respectively. The analysis showed that claims about vaccines ranged from questioning the ethics of vaccination to vaccine's benefits, truths consist of information's supported by scientific evidence, and autism was the main concern when to comes to vaccination. ...
... Other studies only identified topics associated with vaccine hesitancy in the COVID-19 era. 9,[12][13][14]20,21 No studies have investigated changes in anti-vaccine topics during the pandemic and compared such changes across different vaccines; only one study has compared the shift in vaccine-hesitancy topics before and after the COVID-19 outbreak. 20 The present study used manual content analysis to identify the main anti-vaccine topics. ...
Full-text available
This study aimed to identify and assess the prevalence of vaccine-hesitancy-related topics on Twitter in the periods before and after the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Using a search query, 272,780 tweets associated with anti-vaccine topics and posted between 1 January 2011, and 15 January 2021, were collected. The tweets were classified into a list of 11 topics and analyzed for trends during the periods before and after the onset of COVID-19. Since the beginning of COVID-19, the percentage of anti-vaccine tweets has increased for two topics, “government and politics” and “conspiracy theories,” and decreased for “developmental disabilities.” Compared to tweets regarding flu and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines, those concerning COVID-19 vaccines showed larger percentages for the topics of conspiracy theories and alternative treatments, and a lower percentage for developmental disabilities. The results support existing anti-vaccine literature and the assertion that anti-vaccine sentiments are an important public-health issue.
... As Indonesia is still struggling to distribute booster doses to an adequate number of people, understanding the basis to vaccine acceptability is critical for developing strategies to immediately form community health resilience [8]. Previous studies in various countries have highlighted several modifiable and unmodifiable factors associated with the acceptance of vaccines: knowledge, gender, doubt about vaccine information, experiences and the awareness of vaccine importance [9][10][11][12][13][14][15]. ...
Full-text available
Obtaining a booster dose of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine is required to maintain the protective level of neutralizing antibodies and therefore herd immunity in the community, and the success of booster dose programs depends on public acceptance. The aim of this study was to determine the acceptance of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine and its drivers and barriers in Indonesia. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in the provinces of Indonesia between 1 and 15 August 2022. Individuals who completed the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine were asked about their acceptance of a booster dose. Those who refused the booster dose were questioned about their reasons. A logistic regression was used to determine the determinants associated with rejection of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. A total of 2935 respondents were included in the final analysis. With no information on the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, 95% of respondents agreed to receive a booster dose if it were provided for free by the government. This acceptance was reduced to only 50.3% if the vaccine had a 75% efficacy with a 20% chance of side effects. The adjusted logistic regression analysis indicated that there were eight factors associated with the rejection of the booster dose: age, marital status, religion, occupation, type of the first two vaccines received, knowledge regarding the importance of the booster dose, belief that natural immunity is sufficient to prevent COVID-19 and disbelief in the effectiveness of the booster dose. In conclusion, the hesitancy toward booster doses in Indonesia is influenced by some intrinsic factors such as lack of knowledge on the benefits of the booster dose, worries regarding the unexpected side effects and concerns about the halal status of the provided vaccines and extrinsic determinants such as the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine. These findings suggest the need for more campaigns and promotions regarding the booster dose benefits to increase its acceptance.
... In our framework, bubbles do not prevent people from being exposed to the right take on an event, but, by hardening reactions, they inoculate against finding that take compelling. Vaccine skeptics are aware that many people say vaccines are safe and know some pro-vaccine arguments (Larson et al. (2011)), but they have been exposed to a broad diversity of arguments for why vaccines are unsafe and find some such arguments more persuasive. We document stylized evidence from a socialmedia network for stock market investors consistent with our model's predictions: Investors who are bullish about a company become less bullish in the immediate aftermath of a negative earnings surprise, but quickly revert back to being bullish; bearish investors similarly become less bearish in the immediate aftermath of a positive surprise, but quickly revert back. ...
... Understanding vaccine decision-making is crucial to promote vaccine uptake and prevent disease outbreaks. Vaccine confidence has been publicly challenged [14,18]. Investigating and understanding factors that contribute to vaccine confidence and decision-making is crucial to craft ethical and effective vaccine communication and policies that maximize vaccine uptake. ...
Full-text available
The vaccine decision-making process of pregnant and lactating women is complex. Regarding COVID-19, pregnant women are at increased risk for severe disease and poor health outcomes. While pregnant and lactating women were excluded from COVID-19 vaccine trials, available evidence suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and protective during pregnancy. In this study, we used a socio-ecological approach to explore factors influencing the decision-making process for COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant and lactating women in Kenya, for the purpose of informing demand generation strategies. As pregnant and lactating women are influenced by many factors, we conducted 84 in-depth interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including 31 pregnant or lactating women, 20 healthcare workers such as nurses, midwives, doctors, and frontline workers, 25 male family members of pregnant or lactating women, and 8 gatekeepers such as community leaders and faith-based leaders. These individuals were recruited from six communities in Kenya: three urban, and three rural. We applied a grounded theory approach to identify emerging themes and organized emerging themes using the SAGE Vaccine Hesitancy model, which includes three categories of determinants of vaccine acceptance, including contextual influences, individual and group influences, and vaccine and vaccination specific issues. Myths, interpersonal norms, and religion emerged as themes related to contextual influences. Safety, risk perception, and the role of the healthcare worker emerged as themes related to individual and group influences. For vaccine and vaccination specific issues, emerging themes included availability, accessibility, and eligibility. While maternal immunization can substantially reduce the effect of infectious diseases in mothers and infants, vaccine acceptance is critical. However, vaccines do not save lives; vaccination does. We hope the results of this study can be used to tailor communication efforts to increase vaccine demand among pregnant and lactating women.
... The study was later discovered to have been based on a falsification of data and was redrawn, but the false information became widely spread and caused alarm among parents. The fact that Wakefield was later convicted for research fraud and that no scientific evidence of a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism has ever been found, has not prevented anti-vaccination groups continuing to spread misinformation regarding a link between vaccines and autism (Hussain et al. 2018;Larson et al. 2011). The Wakefield article is believed to have led to a decline in vaccination uptake in several countries, including Sweden. ...
Full-text available
This book presents 23 in-depth case studies of successful public policies and programmes in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Each chapter tells the story of the policy’s origins, aims, design, decision-making and implementation processes, and assesses in which respects—programmatically, process-wise, politically and over time—and to what extent it can be considered a policy success. It also points towards the driving forces of success, and the challenges that have had to be overcome to achieve it. Combined, the chapters provide a resource for policy evaluation researchers, educators and students of public policy and public administration, both within and beyond the Nordic region.
... The study was later discovered to have been based on a falsification of data and was redrawn, but the false information became widely spread and caused alarm among parents. The fact that Wakefield was later convicted for research fraud and that no scientific evidence of a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism has ever been found, has not prevented anti-vaccination groups continuing to spread misinformation regarding a link between vaccines and autism (Hussain et al. 2018;Larson et al. 2011). The Wakefield article is believed to have led to a decline in vaccination uptake in several countries, including Sweden. ...
Full-text available
This book presents 23 in-depth case studies of successful public policies and programmes in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Each chapter tells the story of the policy’s origins, aims, design, decision-making and implementation processes, and assesses in which respects—programmatically, process-wise, politically and over time—and to what extent it can be considered a policy success. It also points towards the driving forces of success, and the challenges that have had to be overcome to achieve it. Combined, the chapters provide a resource for policy evaluation researchers, educators and students of public policy and public administration, both within and beyond the Nordic region.
... From an individual perspective, highlighting the motivations for vaccination, such as self-protection from severe forms and protection of the most vulnerable, is recommended. This has already been demonstrated in the context of several vaccine controversies, such as vaccination against hepatitis B, in France [47,48]. It may also be important to promote positive vaccine experiences by amplifying the feedback of those who have been vaccinated. ...
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COVID-19 vaccines are one of the best tools to limit the spread of the virus. However, vaccine hesitancy is increasing worldwide, and France is one of the most hesitant countries. From the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, health care workers (HCW) have been prioritized in the vaccination strategy but were also hesitant. This study was conducted to identify and understand the determinants of COVID-19 vaccination intention in the French context, with a view to promoting HCW vaccination. A qualitative study using individual semi-structured interviews of HCWs was carried out at the beginning of the vaccination campaign (January to April 2021) in a French university hospital. Interviews indicated that the vaccination intention of HCWs was influenced by confidence in the proposed vaccines, past experience with vaccines and disease, the opinions and vaccination status of others, and media handling of information related to COVID-19 vaccination. Improving HCW vaccination intention regarding COVID-19 vaccines could be achieved through the dissemination of clear, reassuring, scientific information. Information should be disseminated by HCWs and vaccination experts and adapted to local contexts. To improve the level of confidence and vaccination uptake through a compliance effect, it would be useful to promote positive COVID-19 vaccination experiences and increased rates of immunization.
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Background: Vaccination is widespread in Western countries and, overall, there is a high vaccination rate. However, immunization is still an enduring challenge. In recent years, the number of parents who choose to delay or refuse vaccines has risen. Objectives: (1) to identify the perceptions and attitudes of hesitant and anti-vaccination parents regarding vaccination in general, and vaccinating their children in particular and; (2) to describe the responses of potential participants to the request to participate in academic research regarding their perceptions and attitudes on the subject of vaccines. Methods: The research employs the qualitative hermeneutic phenomenological method using two research tools: (1) in-depth interviews with 7 hesitant and 11 anti-vaccination Jewish parents in Israel; and (2) the researchers' field notes from this study process, which describe the responses of 32 potential participants to the request to participate in this academic research. Results: The main findings indicate that while most of the interviewees admit to the efficacy of vaccines in preventing diseases, they oppose the way in which vaccines are promoted—based on providing partial information and disregarding parents' concerns and questions. Therefore, they demand transparency about the efficacy and safety of vaccines. The findings also point to a paradoxical finding. On the one hand, these groups claim that health organizations do not understand their position, referring to them as “science-deniers”, even though they are not. On the other hand, these parents choose to refrain from participating in scientific studies and voicing their opinions, thereby perpetuating the situation of being misunderstood. Conclusion: Hesitant and anti-vaccination groups express mistrust in academic institutions and health organizations. Therefore, an effective dialogue that would include hesitant and anti-vaccination groups, the academy, and health organizations may contribute to a better understanding of the barriers that prevent these groups from getting vaccinated or vaccinating their children and promote public health.
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Background: Inactivated vaccine is one of the primary technology types of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, which has wide application in many countries, including mainland China. However, systematic evaluation of the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 inactivated vaccines remains limited. And trust in the vaccine is the key to solving vaccine hesitancy. Methods: Various academic databases were searched comprehensively for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) related to COVID-19 inactivated vaccines. The deadline for retrieval was December 2021. Study screening and data extraction were according to inclusive and exclusive criteria. Statistical analyses were performed using RevMan software 5.3 version and STATA software 16.0 version. Results: Eight studies with 79,334 subjects were included of which 48,123 had received two doses of COVID-19 inactivated vaccines, and 31,211 had received two doses of placebo. The results of the meta-analysis showed that: in terms of effectiveness evaluation, two doses of COVID-19 inactivated vaccines decreased the symptomatic infection [relative risk (RR) = 0.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.18,0.30), P < 0.00001], asymptomatic infection [RR = 0.48, 95%CI (0.32, 0.74), P = 0.0008], total infection [RR = 0.32, 95%CI (0.24, 0.41), P < 0.00001] and hospitalization [RR = 0.06, 95%CI (0.01, 0.27), P = 0.0002] for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) significantly. In terms of safety assessment, two doses of COVID-19 inactivated vaccines also caused more adverse events. After two inoculations, total adverse events and systemic adverse events increased significantly [total adverse events RR = 1.14, 95%CI (1.08, 1.21), P < 0.00001; systemic adverse events RR = 1.22, 95%CI (1.09, 1.35), P = 0.0002]. The most common adverse event was pain at the injection site. Almost all local adverse reactions consisted of these events. The incidence of pain at the injection site was related to adjuvants. Using aluminum hydroxide as an adjuvant increased local pain significantly [RR = 1.97, 95%CI (1.52, 2.55), P < 0.00001]. Two doses COVID-19 inactivated vaccines did not increase serious adverse events [RR = 0.71, 95%CI (0.57, 0.90), P = 0.004]. Conclusion: Two doses of inactivated COVID-19 vaccines in people over 18 years of age effectively prevented SARS-CoV-2 infection and its associated hospitalizations. Short-term, mild to moderate adverse reactions had occurred, but serious adverse events were rare. No placebo or vaccine-related deaths had been reported. Systematic review registration:, identifier: 42021291250.
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Despite the vaccine against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) being reported to be safe and effective, the unwillingness to vaccinate and doubts are still common. The aim of this international study was to assess the major reasons for the unwillingness to vaccinate in a group of students from Poland (n = 1202), Bangladesh (n = 1586), India (n = 484), Mexico (n = 234), Egypt (n = 566), Philippines (n = 2076), Pakistan (n = 506), Vietnam (n = 98) and China (n = 503). We conducted an online cross-sectional study that aimed to assess (1) the percentage of vaccinated and unvaccinated students and (2) the reasons associated with willingness/unwillingness to the vaccine. The study included 7255 respondents from 9 countries with a mean age of 21.85 ± 3.66 years. Only 22.11% (n = 1604) of students were vaccinated. However, the majority (69.25%, n = 5025) expressed a willingness to be vaccinated. More willing to vaccinate were students in informal relationships who worked mentally, used psychological/psychiatric services before the pandemic, and studied medicine. There are cultural differences regarding the reasons associated with the unwillingness to vaccinate, but some ‘universal’ might be distinguished that apply to the whole group.
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The extraordinary events surrounding the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the United Kingdom have not only placed in jeopardy the use of this triple vaccine but have also spread concern to other parts of the world. Examination of the public’s worry about MMR vaccine reveals they have been exposed to a range of conflicting views resulting in the feeling of having been misled about the safety of the vaccine. There are various groups and individuals who have legitimate roles in informing the public about such subjects. But is each one behaving in an ethically responsible way? And if confidence falters, vaccine coverage dips, and an outbreak of measles, mumps, or rubella ensues, who, if anyone, will stand and say “I misled them, I confused them, this is my responsibility”? We examine the ethical issues of each group with a voice in the debate about vaccine safety.
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Vaccines have contributed enormously in reducing the impact of many infectious diseases, and the expanded use of new and existing vaccines provides unprecedented potential for further reducing the global burden of infectious diseases. Yet, as with the deployment of other technologies, their use may also sometimes be associated with undesirable effects that need to be identified rapidly, understood and minimized. In this article, we review the models and systems that have been developed to monitor and respond to concerns regarding vaccine safety and we give illustrative examples of real or perceived vaccine safety issues. The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) was set up 10 years ago and charged to provide the WHO with independent advice on vaccine safety issues. The role of the GACVS is both to analyze and to interpret reports of the adverse effects of vaccines that impact on global vaccination programs and strategies, and to foster the development of improved surveillance systems to detect any adverse effects of vaccines, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. It also monitors the development of new vaccines during clinical testing and advises on the safe use of vaccines in immunization programs. As success is achieved with reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases, there will be increasing attention focused on potential adverse effects, on the development of effective surveillance systems to detect adverse effects, and on improved methods to manage and control any harmful consequences of vaccination.
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Introduction: Formative research can inform country-level HPV vaccine delivery strategies, communication messages, and advocacy plans. This paper describes our formative research's conceptual framework; details our applied methodology; summarizes our field experience and challenges; and outlines best practices for formative research in vac-cine introduction. Methods: From 2006–2008, literature reviews, stakeholder mapping, sociocultural studies, health system assessments, and policy reviews were conducted. Data collection at individual, interpersonal, community, institutional, and policy levels in-cluded in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys, observations, secondary data, and facility audits. Data were analyzed thematically using an iterative process. Discussion: Integrated formative research can be implemented in low-resource settings, but may require overcoming op-erational challenges. Best practices in applied formative research include a conceptual framework, multidisciplinary ap-proach, and rapid dissemination of results. Conclusions: Formative research informs effective health program planning by examining complex and interrelated fac-tors surrounding vaccination. Methodologically sound formative research provides valid and reliable evidence for coun-try-level vaccine introduction.
The number of global polio cases has fallen dramatically and eradication is within sight, but despite extraordinary efforts, polio retains its grip in a few areas. Anthropologist Svea Closser follows the trajectory of the polio eradication effort in Pakistan, one of the last four countries in the world with endemic polio. Journeying from vaccination campaigns in rural Pakistan to the center of global health decision making at the World Health Organization in Geneva, the author explores the historical and cultural underpinnings of eradication as a public health strategy, and reveals the culture of optimism that characterizes-and sometimes cripples-global health institutions. With a keen ethnographic eye, Closser describes the complex power negotiations that underlie the eradication effort at every level, tracking techniques of resistance employed by district health workers and state governments alike. This book offers an analysis of local politics, social relations, and global political economy in the implementation of a worldwide public health effort, with broad implications for understanding what is possible in global health, now and for the future. This book is the recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.
Lee and Harmer’s editorial marking 10 years of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI)1 was published before discussion of a controversial press release issued by the World Health Organization jointly with GAVI and others in 2007 after the Bangladesh study on Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccination.2 3 …
This is the advice of a committee of leading American experts, chaired by Harvey Fineberg from the Harvard School of Public Health. It represents the fifth report in a series, commissioned by the US National Research Council, that considers how society can understand and cope with decisions about risks. The Committee's remit was to provide advice on risk characterisation, defined by the Research Council as the translation of `the information in a risk assessment ... into a form usable by a risk manager, individual decision maker, or the public'. In this book, the Committee has responded to the challenge clearly and authoritatively, beginning with a profound re-definition of `risk characterisation' that forms the basis for all that follows. In the view of the Committee, risk characterisation is a process. It is a process which starts before quantitative analysis of the risks, because it includes defining what risks to assess, and how most appropriately to assess them. It is an iterative process, in which assumptions are challenged and re-worked, and new information may be incorporated. It is a process in which qualitative judgements contribute to the fuller understanding of the problem; where quantitative scientific estimates, although important, contribute only a part. Most fundamentally, it is a process which, in a democratic society, needs to involve all those affected by the perceived problem and consequent decision. In the words of the Committee: `Experience shows that analyses, no matter how thorough, that do not address the decision-relevant questions, use reasonable assumptions, and meaningfully include the key affected parties can result in huge expenses and long delays and jeopardise the quality of understanding and the acceptability of the final decisions.' In other words, until or unless we expand our understanding of risk characterisation to include the process of defining the assessment itself, we are unlikely to make progress in gaining public acceptance for major decisions on health or environmental issues. For those without sufficient time to read the book, the ten-page summary provides a succinct overview of the Committee's advice, complete with bullet points and emboldened key phrases. However, the main body of the book (and particularly Appendix A, which discusses a number of case studies) is well worth scanning for its well-reasoned and well-structured discussion of the issues and the suggested way forward. Nor is the Committee lost in an `academic ivory tower'. It recognises that involvement of all those with vested interests cannot ensure a rapid or consensus solution or preclude some groups `dropping out' and choosing the route of litigation. It also recognises that allowing a `voice' for a wide range of interest groups can be time consuming and difficult to manage. However, the Committee argues: `While we are sensitive to concerns about cost and delay, we note that huge costs and delays have sometimes resulted when a risk situation was inadequately diagnosed, a problem misformulated, key interested and affected parties did not participate, or analysis proceeded unintegrated with deliberation. We believe that following [our] principles can reduce delays and costs as much as or more than it increases them.' So what are the Committee's principles? Getting the science right - any quantitative science that is undertaken must be of the highest standards. Getting the right science - this ensures that all the relevant risks are considered. Getting the right participation - this ensures that all those affected have a `voice' in the process. Getting the participation right - this ensures that the process is responsive to the needs of all the participants. Developing an accurate, balanced and informative synthesis - this should include a balanced understanding of the uncertainties in current knowledge, encompassing ignorance and indeterminacy as well as more quantifiable uncertainties. Again, in the words of the Committee: `These criteria are related. To be decision-relevant, risk characterisation must be accurate, balanced and informative. This requires getting the science right and getting the right science. Participation helps ask the right questions of the science, check the plausibility of assumptions, and ensure that any synthesis is both balanced and informative.' In order to set up an appropriate risk characterisation process, the Committee recommends that those responsible for it should `begin by developing a provisional diagnosis of the decision situation' in order to identify potential participants, allocate resources and structure the process. However, in doing so, they should `treat the diagnosis as tentative and remain open to change, always keeping in mind that their goal is a process that leads to a useful and credible risk characterization'. The Committee also stresses the need for those responsible for the process to `develop the capability to cope with attempts by some interested and affected parties to delay decision, and to develop a range of strategies for reaching closure'. This is likely to require the development of new skills and may require organisational changes `to improve communication across sub-units and to allow for the flexibility and judgement necessary to match the process to decision'. This balanced, reasoned and authoritative book is, in my opinion, a `must for all those involved in informing societal decision on risks.
Residents in the State of Nevada hold strong opinions about the federal government's proposal to site the nation's first high-level radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The model developed in this study is designed to examine the relationship between public perceptions of risk, trust in risk management, and potential economic impacts of the current repository program using a confirmatory multivariate method known as covariance structure analysis. The data used to test the model was collected in a 1989 statewide survey of Nevada residents. The results indicate that, for a statewide sample, perceptions of potential economic benefits do not have a significant role in predicting support or opposition to the repository program. On the other hand, risk perceptions and the level of trust in repository management are closely related to each other and to positions on Yucca Mountain. Trust directly influences risk perceptions which, in turn, have a direct effect on the attitude toward the repository, and an indirect effect through perceived stigma effects.