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.”
The anti-vaccine movement, also known as the anti-vax movement, is gathering speed as more people chose not to vaccinate their children against preventable diseases. According to Parents, some of the usual reasons cited for not vaccinating include the following.
- Parents believing an influx of vaccines will compromise developing immune systems
- Potential dangerous toxins contained within the vaccines
- The misconception that vaccines cause autism
- A belief that vaccines are a way in which pharmaceutical companies can profiteer
- The belief that the side-effects can be worse than the diseases they are preventing.
While 70 percent of children are vaccinated in the U.S., as Fox News points out, approximately “100,000 young children had not received a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended.”
The other global health threats include air pollution and climate change, noncommunicable diseases, global influenza pandemic, fragile and vulnerable settings, antimicrobial resistance, Ebola and other high-threat pathogens, weak primary health care, dengue, and HIV, according to WHO’s list.