[oped of the day] Deadly spread: On ‘vaccine hesitancy’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Measles vaccination in India

Mains level : Measles vaccine - the issue of Vaccine Hesitancy

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

There is a 30% increase in measles cases worldwide in 2018 and the WHO included ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the 10 threats to global health this year. 

Vaccine hesitancy

  • Vaccine hesitancy is defined as the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines”.
  • It only appears to have grown more dangerous to public health. 

The case of Measles

  • Measles vaccine not only provides lifelong protection against the virus but also reduces mortality from other childhood infections. 
  • This is because measles viruses kill immune cells, leaving the child vulnerable to infectious diseases for two to three years.
  • There is a surge in measles cases from the WHO African region, WHO European region. 
  • The infection spread in the European region has been unprecedented in recent years. Last month the U.K., Greece, the Czech Republic, and Albania lost their measles elimination status.

Reasons for Vaccine Hesitancy

  • A 2018 report on vaccine confidence among the EU member states shows why vaccine coverage has not been increasing to offer protection even to those not vaccinated. 
  • It found younger people (18-34 years) and those with less education are less likely to agree that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe. 
  • Only 52% of respondents from 28 EU member states agree that vaccines are definitely effective in preventing diseases, while 33% felt they were probably effective. 48% of the respondents believed that vaccines cause serious side effects and 38% think vaccines actually cause the disease that they are supposed to protect against. 
  • Even in India, a 2018 study found low awareness to be the main reason why 45% of children missed different vaccinations in 121 Indian districts that have higher rates of unimmunised children. They had apprehension about adverse effects, were reluctant to get immunised for reasons other than fear of adverse effects. 
  • Social media is playing a crucial role in spreading vaccine disinformation.

Way ahead

  • Work should be done to address misinformation. 
  • Facebook committed to “reduce distribution” of vaccine misinformation.

 


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Health – Diseases

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