Vaccine hesitancy has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019.
Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria are among the most significant current challenges to the health of the world, noted the WHO.
A vaccines advisory group to WHO has identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence as key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisors and influencers of vaccination decisions, and must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines, said the WHO.
This year the WHO plans to intensify work to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide by increasing HPV vaccine coverage, among other interventions.
2019 may also be the year when transmission of wild poliovirus is stopped in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, less than 30 cases were reported in both countries. WHO and partners are committed to supporting these countries to vaccinate every child and eradicate polio.
The WHO also cited the ongoing potential for a global flu pandemic as another top ten health threat in 2019. It constantly monitors the circulation of influenza viruses to detect potential pandemic strains and advises annually on flu vaccine composition.