Updated
July 19th, 2019

Anti-Vaxx’ers Suffer From Fear, Trust, And Are Willing To Gamble

Vaccination hesitancy related to fear, lack of trust, and expectation of an imminent disease outbreak

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The 3 leading factors that influence whether people are willing to be vaccinated against a virulent disease are fear, trust, and the likelihood of exposure, according to a new study in the journal Heliyon.

In this study published on July 18, 2019, the investigators found that the primary social factors influencing vaccine receptivity were:

  • a general fear orientation: Respondents expressed fear not only of being infected but also more generally in terms of their outlook on life and how they perceive things are going overall in society today. The more than 60 percent who reported being somewhat or very scared about events in the US today were much more willing to consider an anti-Ebola vaccination than individuals who did not report this anxiety.
  • trust in government to contain a crisis:  People who expressed confidence in the US government's ability to prevent an Ebola outbreak were much more willing to take the anti-Ebola vaccine than individuals who lacked confidence in the government to do so. 
  • relative chance of being exposed to the pathogen. While approximately 80 percent of the respondents thought that it was somewhat or highly likely that an Ebola outbreak would happen fairly soon in the US, most people thought that the outbreak would not happen in their local community or family. However, the closer in proximity they thought the outbreak would be to them, the more willing they were to take the anti-Ebola vaccination.

This study also concluded saying ‘the effectiveness and safety of a vaccine itself were not among the factors influencing receptivity.’

"Our findings indicate that vaccine hesitancy is associated with social factors that are independent of the perceived effectiveness of vaccines," explains one of the study's investigators, Kent P. Schwirian, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Sociology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, in a press release.

Anti-vaxx news

This new study reported ‘a growing anti-vax movement has spawned a small but vocal faction of the population, spreading hesitancy despite widespread evidence of vaccine efficacy and safety.’ 

The reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one's children vaccinated was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019.’

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The WHO says there is no single intervention that addresses all instances of vaccine hesitancy. 

Based on the systematic review of strategies to address vaccine hesitancy conducted by the WHO’s SAGE working group, the most effective interventions are multi-component versus single-component. 

In most cases, the SAGE ‘Tailoring Immunization Programs‘ says interventions should be dialogue-based and directly targeted to a specific under-vaccinated population group. 

By engaging collaboratively with health workers, service-users, and their families and communities, national authorities can generate the insights to develop better quality health services, systems, policies, and communication strategies that support and enable recommended vaccination behaviors. 

Understanding the factors that contribute to vaccination compliance or hesitancy is vital for controlling future disease outbreaks.