A new study found that public confidence in the importance, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines fell in Asia and Africa but increased in Europe. According to the study published in The Lancet, a significant increase in respondents strongly disagreeing that vaccines are safe was recorded in Asia, while confidence among the public regarding vaccines improved in some European Union states.
The study conducted between November 2015 and December 2019 found that confidence about vaccines in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea fell, while Finland, France, Ireland, and Italy recorded improvement. The countries showing less confidence towards vaccines are due to fewer years of education, religious extremism, and political instability, said authors of the study.
The study said that Japan ranked among the countries with the lowest vaccine confidence in the world, which the authors think might be linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine safety scare that started in 2013, and following the decision by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in June 2013, to suspend proactive recommendation of the HPV vaccine.
Indonesia witnessed a large drop in confidence between 2015 and 2019, partly triggered by Muslim leaders questioning the safety of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the study claimed. Muslim leaders in the country had issued fatwas, a religious ruling, claiming that the vaccine was 'haram'.
In South Korea and Malaysia, online misinformation regarding vaccines was cited as the reason behind mistrust among the general public. "The determinants of vaccine uptake across the globe show strong consistency, with being male or having fewer years of education associated with decreased chances of uptake," the study said.
Between 2015 and 2019, reported vaccine confidence levels were collected from 2,84,381 individuals aged 18 years or older across 149 countries as part of 290 nationally representative surveys.