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WHO raises alarm over growing refusal of immunisation

WHOMedical experts supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have raised alarm over growing global refusal to vaccination, which they said constitutes great challenge for immunization programmes.

In a special issue of the journal Vaccine, guest-edited by WHO and published yesterday, the experts said people who delay or refuse vaccines for themselves or their children are presenting a growing challenge for countries seeking to close the immunization gap.

According to the publication, globally, one in five children still does not receive routine life-saving immunizations, and an estimated 1.5 million children still die each year of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines that already exist.

The experts reviewed the role of vaccine hesitancy in limiting vaccine coverage and explored strategies to address it.

Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of safe vaccines despite availability of vaccination services.

The issue is complex and context specific, varying across time, place and vaccines. It is influenced by factors such as misinformation, complacency, convenience and confidence.

Senior Health Adviser for WHO’s Immunization, Vaccines and Biological Department and guest editor of the special issue, entitled WHO recommendations regarding vaccine hesitancy, Dr. Philippe Duclos, said: “Vaccines can only improve health and prevent deaths if they are used, and immunization programmes must be able to achieve and sustain high vaccine uptake rates.



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