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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

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.