The rise of anti-vaccination movements in parts of the Western world poses a dire threat to people’s health and the collective herd immunity. People of all ages have fallen victim to recent outbreaks of measles, one of the most notable “eliminated” diseases that made a comeback as a direct consequence of not reaching the immunization threshold for MMR vaccines. These outbreaks not only put a strain on national healthcare systems but also cause fatal casualties. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that all stakeholders in the medical world – physicians, researchers, educators, and governments – unite to curb the influence of the anti-vaccination movement targeting parents. Research has shown that even parents favorable to vaccination can be confused by the ongoing debate, leading them to question their choices. Many parents lack basic knowledge of how vaccines work, as well as access to accurate information explaining the importance of the process. Furthermore, those with the greatest need for knowledge about vaccination seem most vulnerable to this information. Further, we must effectively combat the wrongful demonization of vaccinations through social media and news media platforms. A qualitative study that explored how parents respond to competing media messages about vaccine safety concluded that personal experiences, value systems, and level of trust in health professionals are essential to parental decision making about immunization. Therefore, to combat the anti-vaccination movement, there must be a strong emphasis on helping parents develop trust in health professionals and relevant authorities, educating them on the facts and figures, debunking the myths peddled by the anti-vaccination movements, and even introducing legislation that promotes vaccination, if not mandating it.
Source: The Anti-vaccination Movement: A Regression in Modern Medicine, by Azhar Hussain, Syed Ali, Madiha Ahmed, and Sheharyar Hussain – Cureus 10(7), Jul, 2018.