Vaccine hesitancy is widespread globally, with many different reasons behind reluctance to vaccinate, according to a new study in the journal Vaccine.
The review of three years of data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Report Form (JRF) was undertaken to determine the reported rate of vaccine hesitancy across the globe.
Hesitancy was reported by over 90 per cent of countries. A total of 1,110 reasons for hesitancy were cited over the three years and varied by country income level and WHO region, and changed over time .
The top three cited reasons for vaccine hesitancy globally over the three years were consistently:
- Risk-benefit (scientific evidence) e.g. fear of side effects (22%, 23%, 23%)
- Lack of knowledge and awareness of vaccination and its importance (15%, 13%, 10%);
- Religion, culture, gender and socioeconomic issues regarding vaccines (10%, 9%, 12%).
The authors pointed out that reasons were based on assessment of information in just over one-third of countries; the rest were opinion-based. The number of countries that reported having completed an assessment of vaccine hesitancy in the previous five years was just over 30 per cent each year. Upper middle-income countries were least likely to have done an assessment, which deserves attention, the authors said.