public health medicine
health care systems
undermining social norms
Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions available and the main tool for primary prevention of communicable diseases. However, the EU is facing increasing outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, while some fatal cases of measles and diphtheria have been reported.
The presented report is based on the work of the Expert Panel on effective ways of investing in Health, which was informed by a literature review on the main factors (enablers and obstacles) influencing vaccination uptake.
Obstacles to vaccination coverage include individuals’ and parents’ concerns or fears about vaccine safety and side effects, lack of trust, social norms, exposure to rumours and myths undermining confidence in vaccines, failure by some healthcare providers to counter these myths and provide evidence-informed advice, access barriers (e.g. poor availability, co-payments), and failure to understand the underlying mechanisms that decrease vaccination confidence. Enablers include sources of reliable information about vaccination, exposure to positive media messages, building trust in institutions and providers, building confidence in vaccination, easy access and availability to healthcare services, ease of administration, active involvement and engagement by healthcare providers, and targeting of high-risk groups.
There is a range of policy options that countries can implement to increase vaccination coverage. Communication strategies about the benefits of vaccination are important but need to be combined with opportunities for dialogue with vaccine hesitant groups and participatory approaches. These strategies need to be targeted not only at the uninformed (i.e. the lack of information) but also at the misinformed (when the information is incorrect) or disinformed (when information is spread with the intention to deceive).