Vaccine HesitancyRecently, vaccine hesitancy joined air pollution and obesity at the top of global health threats prioritized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019. Vaccine hesitancy, or skepticism, is a novel inclusion. It reflects a growing mistrust of recommended vaccinations, likely spurred by shared media accounts. But scholars like Amesh Adalja at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in the United States say that vaccines are an important control and vaccine hesitancy belongs on the list.
"If you'd done that list 100 years ago it would have been all infectious diseases. The reasons why it's not is because of vaccines,” Adalja says. “People didn't have the luxury of dying from diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Vaccines are probably one of the greatest technologies to have impacted on human health.”
A measles outbreak in the U.S. recently highlighted the “anti-vaxxer” phenomenon. Measles is a potentially deadly disease that can cause pneumonia and encephalitis. The respiratory disease is extremely contagious. You can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even if that person left up to two hours before.
Some teens are turning to social media site Reddit for advice after parents refused to get them vaccinated as children. The teens are worried about catching a preventable disease, and also don’t want to be responsible for potentially passing that disease along to someone who cannot get vaccinated for health reasons. Fellow users have offered support in the form of everything from links to scientific articles to Go Fund Me campaigns to pay for shots.
As with all health matters, it’s important to seek out reliable sources of information with strong scientific backing when considering vaccinations.