Jun 20, 2019

Vaccine safety concern has regional differences: Wellcome survey

A Rohingya refugee gets an MMR vaccine at camp in Bangladesh in November 2017. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

While 79% of people worldwide "somewhat" or "strongly agree" that vaccines are safe, certain parts of the world have a concerning level of disbelief, particularly in parts of Europe, according to a large Gallup survey for charitable foundation Wellcome Trust released on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The global health community is trying understand and combat pockets of anti-vaccination or vaccine hesitancy, which have recently led to some devastating outbreaks, such as from the highly contagious but preventable measles, even though vaccine injuries are rare.

Details: Wellcome says this "first-of-[its]-kind global survey" asked more than 140,000 people aged 15 and older in 144 countries various questions last year to determine how they think and feel about health and science, including vaccination.

By the numbers: Per Wellcome Global Monitor 2018, when asked their position on whether "Vaccines are safe," respondents indicated...

  • Globally: 79% agree that vaccines are safe, 7% disagree, 11% neither agree nor disagree, and 3% don't know.
  • North America: 72% agree, 11% disagree, 16% neither agree nor disagree, 1% don't know.
  • Eastern Europe: 50% agree, 17% disagree, 26% neither agree nor disagree, 7% don't know.
  • France: Showed the highest percentage of people who disagree vaccines that are safe, at 33%.
  • Bangladesh and Rwanda: Showed the highest percentage of people who agree vaccines are safe, at 97% and 94% respectively.
  • Of note: "Agree" and "disagree" combine both ranges of "somewhat" and "strong."

Between the lines: Wellcome's report says France's vaccine skepticism was found to be consistent throughout the various demographics as "it does not vary significantly by education, age, gender, urban or rural status, or whether people are parents."

  • The report notes that researchers have found there was a a substantial increase in vaccine skepticism in France after the pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign in 2009, which had stirred up some controversy that was refuted by the World Health Organization.
  • "The rising vaccine hesitancy in France over the past several years — which even now includes some members of the medical community — has helped drive vaccine coverage among some children and young adults below immunity thresholds and led to rising numbers of measles and meningococcal disease cases," the report states.

Methodology: This study was included in the Gallup World Poll and was translated into the major languages of each country. 3,600 interviewers in the 144 countries used face-to-face and phone interviews to collect the data from April to December 2018. Here's their methodology and their questionnaire.

Go deeper

Trump administration asks Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the White House in September. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Details: The request for a lump sum account for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and $535 would come from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

Taking precaution, in the Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - World