Giving Compass' Take:

• Hattie Garlick reports that the Wellcome Global Monitor survey found an alarming crisis of vaccine confidence in Europe. 

• How can funders work to ensure vaccine compliance? 

• Learn how laws can increase vaccination rates


Virulent opposition to vaccines is as old as vaccines themselves. In the 18th century, Edward Jenner’s smallpox vaccine attracted wrath from religious groups, which fired up frightened parents. Andrew Wakefield’s discredited 1998 paper, spuriously linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, provoked widespread, global panic, then in 2016, his film Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe raked it up again. “Anti-vaxxers” are now back on the scene, amplified by the wild west of social media.

Yet it isn’t this group that is causing most concern. Among the top 10 threats to global health outlined this year by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “vaccine hesitancy”. This group – the undecided and the questioning – is far harder to pinpoint. They are not shrill on social media. In fact, many keep their concerns private, for fear of censure. But they have researchers and medical professionals very worried indeed.

Last month, the biggest global study conducted into attitudes about immunization identified a crisis of confidence across Europe; the Wellcome Global Monitor survey, looking at 2018 data, found that, in France, one in three people believe that vaccines are not safe. In Ukraine, just half of those surveyed trusted in their efficacy. Both countries have experienced recent measles outbreaks.

In the UK, meanwhile, the proportion of children receiving both doses of the MMR jab by their fifth birthday has fallen for four years in a row to 87.2%, significantly below the 95% that the WHO says is necessary for population-wide protection. Last June, Public Health England (PHE) reported an almost four fold rise in measles cases compared with the previous year.

What has provoked people to question a public health intervention described by PHE as second only to clean water in saving lives? Can listening to the growing number of “hesitant” parents shed light on how to counter the trend?

Read the full article about the crisis of vaccine confidence by Hattie Garlick at The Guardian.