The Guardian’s view on the vaccine shortage: dealing with disruption and disbelief | editorial


TeaThe terror of the Covid-19 pandemic brought with it one small cause for optimism: the crisis Accelerated the development of new vaccine technologies, with the ability to protect against other diseases. Yet this jump was accompanied by a dramatic backsliding in the distribution of existing vaccines. 23 million children missing routine vaccinations in 2020 and 25 million in 2021 – the biggest sustained decline in three decades.

The World Health Organization reports that more prevalent and severe outbreaks of preventable diseases, including diphtheria and polio, are already occurring. While the three-quarters of children who were left out lived in just 20 countries, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the decline was even greater in richer countries. UK Health Security Agency has done warning Last year there was a significant decrease among adolescents taking the meningococcal vaccine and the last routine dose of the combined polio, diphtheria and tetanus vaccine. COVID-19 overwhelmed health care systems and personnel, while lockdowns kept people away from facilities used to give shots. Supply chain disruption affected the availability of doses and syringes.

WHO and others have now launched a drive At least to return to pre-pandemic vaccination levels, which were already stable. Must be catchable. chad is really Increase your vaccine coverage Since 2019. As UNICEF warns, for many children, especially those in marginalized communities, “vaccination is still not available, accessible or affordable”. This is the primary issue, and although it is not simple, it can be addressed. But even before the pandemic began, WHO identified vaccine hesitancy A top threat to global health, Campaigns against diseases such as measles have been victims of their own success; Since most people never encountered them, the threat began to seem less urgent or serious. Libertarian views, declining trust in authority, and interest in alternative healthcare fueled skepticism, along with false claims of a link between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Doubt about one vaccine often spreads to others.

The pandemic made things worse. Research by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that public perception of the importance of vaccines for children has declined in 52 of the 55 countries studied. The speed with which new Covid vaccines have been developed has brought concern as well as relief. But misinformation was also significant, with the WHO warning of an “infodemic” of wild rumors and conspiracy theories. Although social media companies undoubtedly bear responsibilitygrowth of political polarization and sense of uncertainty Help explain people’s sensitivities.

Most people still value and want vaccines, and the rest are mostly not hostile, but are often ambivalent or skeptical about specific vaccines. Considering them mad or stupid will not work. showing respect, acknowledging their concerns And it’s more productive to put risks into context than to dismiss them. There are solid reasons why some groups may doubt whether medical professionals or the state have their best interests at heart. as health experts toldFocusing on hesitation exposes individuals – but underlying inequalities Large scales explain the reduced take-up, and solving them is important to improving public health, as in many other cases.

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