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What is ‘Vaccine hesitancy’? Why it is a significant threat? (Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology)

Vaccine hesitancy
Vaccine hesitancy is defined as the “reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines.

With a 30% increase in measles cases worldwide in 2018, the World Health Organization, in January 2019, included ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the 10 threats to global health this year.

Why ‘vaccine hesitancy’ for MMR vaccine?
Younger people (18-34 years) and those with less education are less likely to agree that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is safe.

A 2018 study found low awareness to be the main reason why 45% of children missed different vaccinations in 121 Indian districts that have higher rates of unimmunised children. While 24% did not get vaccinated due to apprehension about adverse effects, 11% were reluctant to get immunised for reasons other than fear of adverse effects. Thus, much work remains to be done to address misinformation.

With social media playing a crucial role in spreading vaccine disinformation, the commitment by Facebook to “reduce distribution” of vaccine misinformation will be helpful in winning the war against vaccine deniers.

Need for MMR vaccine
Measles vaccine not only provides lifelong protection against the virus but also reduces mortality from other childhood infections. This is because measles viruses kill immune cells, leaving the child vulnerable to infectious diseases for two to three years.

Source: The Hindu



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