The World Health Organization (WHO) has released their list of what they consider to be the major threats for this year. And, for the first time, the anti-vaccine movement has made the global threats list.
Vaccine hesitancy, according to WHO's latest global threats list, is "the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines." As people decide not to vaccinate, a rise in preventable diseases has been observed. If this figure continues, WHO suspects it could be considered a major threat in the future.
According to CBS News, the effects of vaccine hesitancy are already significant across the globe. There has been a 30 percent rise in measles cases worldwide. In addition to this, the anti-vaccine movement has led to "some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence."
According to WHO, vaccination "currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved." In addition to the current vaccine schedule, WHO will be "increasing coverage of the HPV vaccine" in 2019 in an effort to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide.
However, the reasons behind people choosing not to vaccinate are complicated, according to WHO. WHO cites "complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy." Health workers are considered vital in helping people chose to vaccinate against preventable diseases and are encouraged to continue to provide credible information on vaccines. However, they also believe that not all of these reasons are associated with "vaccine hesitancy."