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Vaccine Hesitancy: A Growing Concern

Abstract

Vaccines are one of the great achievements of medical science. They have eradicated or drastically reduced the incidence of once common diseases. It is estimated that vaccines save between 2 and 6 million lives each year, but 1.5 million more lives could be saved if coverage was increased. Vaccine hesitancy, defined by the World Health Organization as “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines”, is a barrier to increasing coverage that has received a great deal of attention from the media and public health academics in recent years. It is argued that many parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children because of concerns about vaccine safety, despite reassurances from doctors and public health authorities. Vaccine hesitancy is a particularly big problem in high-income countries. Observers have noted that the internet and social media play an important role in spreading fears about vaccine safety. It is, however, important to understand how the wider social and political context has influenced concerns about vaccine safety. Vaccine hesitancy appears to be one aspect of a broader breakdown in trust between some sections of the population on the one hand, and elites and experts on the other.

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Acknowledgements

I am grateful to three anonymous reviewers, the editor, and Farrah Jarral for helpful comments on this paper.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Kennedy.

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JK has received no funding relevant to this article. JK has no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Kennedy, J. Vaccine Hesitancy: A Growing Concern. Pediatr Drugs 22, 105–111 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40272-020-00385-4

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