What is driving the rise of the ‘anti-vaxxers’

There has been a recent global increase in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases as a result of people choosing not to be vaccinated.

The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines (known as ‘vaccine hesitancy’) has been  listed as one of 10 global health threats by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to the home doctor experts at House Call Doctor, combating misinformation is vital to retain the confidence in, and success of vaccinations.

What are vaccines?

Vaccines help reduce the risk of certain illnesses or diseases by introducing dead or weakened versions of disease-causing germs to the immune system.

Vaccines are very important to protect vulnerable people in the community such as young children, the elderly, or those who are too sick to be immunised.

What is the anti-vaxxer movement?

In 1988, a fraudulent paper suggesting that vaccines are linked to autism was published, sparking the anti-vaccination, or “anti-vaxxer” movement.

An anti-vaxxer is a person who is opposed to vaccination, typically a parent who does not wish to vaccinate their childbecause they believe vaccines are unsafe.

The anti-vaxxer movement as an ideology is seen as contradicting the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus and can lead to outbreaks ofdiseases.

Why do people have vaccine hesitancy?

There are many, complex reasons why people choose not to vaccinate. A vaccine advisory group by WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy.

Online platforms allow anti-vaxxers to select and share scientific information to escalate uncertainty in the broader population. Although the fraudulent paper was retracted in 2010, it has been reported many people still believe that vaccines can cause autism.

If you have any questions about vaccines, we recommend you speak with your regular GP or contact House Call Doctor for after-hours consultation.

Louise Author