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Europeans most worried about vaccine safety
October 6, 2016, 1:21 pm

If you thought that it was people in tribal regions of Pakistan or in some African countries who held the belief that vaccines were dangerous, then think again. It turns out that the people who are most skeptical about vaccine safety live in Europe. Researchers indicate study findings could help policymakers recognize and address issues to increase public confidence in vaccines. Vaccines are considered by the scientific community and a majority of the public to be one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the 20th century. Diseases such as diphtheria, polio, and tuberculosis once though incurable have been significantly reduced and, in the case of polio, nearly eradicated from the world mainly on account of vaccines.

However, not everyone is convinced about the safety and effectiveness of vaccine. Although this group is a minority, recent outbreaks of measles - a disease preventable by vaccination - demonstrates how negative attitudes of a few, could become a problem for authorities and pose a danger to the rest of the world. A new study, which aimed to find the rates of skepticism about vaccines, surveyed over 66,000 people across 67 countries. While most individuals surveyed had positive attitudes toward immunization, among those who held negative views, there were significant variances in attitutdes.

The European region had the majority of vaccine-skeptical countries, with France topping the list at 41 percent of people disagreeing that vaccines were safe - more than three times the global average of 12 percent. Other countries with high levels of individuals concerned about the safety of vaccines included Bosnia and Herzegovina (36 percent), Russia (28 percent), Mongolia (27 percent), with Greece, Japan, and Ukraine at 25 percent. The countries most confident in the safety of vaccines were found in the South East Asian region including Bangladesh (only 1 percent of people with a negative view of vaccine safety), Saudi Arabia (1 percent), Argentina (1 percent), Indonesia (3 percent), and Thailand (6 percent).

As a whole, the European region had the most people - 15.8 percent - who disagreed that vaccines are safe, compared with the South East Asian region, with 4.4 percent of people disagreeing on the safety of vaccines. The investigation also found that older people - 65 and above - were generally more positive about vaccinations than people in other age groups. Refusal to vaccinate may pose public health problems worldwide, such as causing diseases including polio, measles, and meningitis to make a comeback in countries where levels of infection have drastically reduced in recent decades.

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