TUESDAY, July 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The anti-vaccination movement is now a global crisis, an international panel of scientists say, and everyone must do more to combat it.
“We are alarmed that the WHO [World Health Organization] this year declared vaccine hesitancy a top-10 international public health problem. This is a man-made, dangerous and wholly unnecessary crisis,” said Dr. Scott Ratzan. He’s founding editor of the Journal of Health Communication. He’s also the founder of the International Working Group (IWG) on Vaccination and Public Health Solutions.
The new Salzburg Statement on Vaccine Acceptance, published July 2, has been endorsed by 60 leaders in public health from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
According to the group, vaccines have prevented hundreds of millions of infectious diseases — such as polio, measles, hepatitis B and meningitis — and save up to 3 million lives a year. They are cost-effective, too. Every U.S. dollar spent on childhood immunization returns up to $44 in benefits, according to the IWG.
But in the United States, outbreaks of measles have recently occurred in hotspots where parents have refused to vaccinate their children. In response, some U.S. states have reacted by closing “personal belief” loopholes that allowed parents to not immunize a school-aged child.
“The resurgence of potentially life-threatening diseases like measles, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, undermines the integrity of childhood protections that thousands of dedicated scientists, doctors and public health officials spent the better part of the last century putting in place,” said Lawrence Gostin. He directs the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, and is also co-director of the IWG.
“Parents do have rights to make informed decisions about vaccinating their children,” Gostin added, “but they do not have the right to place their children, or other children, at risk of a serious infectious disease. We need to do a far better job of reaching out to vaccine-hesitant parents.”
And the problem is now a global one, the consortium of scientists added in a journal news release. So, more must be done to combat false information about childhood vaccines being spread by anti-vaxxers.