A global survey of attitudes towards science has revealed the scale of the crisis of confidence in vaccines in Europe, showing that only 59% of people in western Europe and 50% in the east think vaccines are safe, compared with 79% worldwide. Around the globe, 84% of people acknowledge that vaccines are effective and 92% say their child has received a vaccine.
But in spite of good healthcare and education systems, in parts of Europe there is low trust in vaccines. France has the highest levels of distrust, at 33%. Bangladesh and Rwanda have the highest confidence in vaccines in the world. Rwanda also has the highest trust in its healthcare, at 97%, against a global average of 76%.
The survey shows that mistrust in government institutions goes hand in hand with doubts about vaccines’ safety.
“In developing countries, where deadly diseases like diphtheria, measles or whooping cough are more common, I’ve seen mothers queue for hours to make sure their child is vaccinated,” said Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “It is in wealthier countries, where we no longer see the terrible impact these preventable diseases can have, that people are more reticent. This reticence is a luxury we can ill afford.”