How society should respond to the risk of vaccine rejection

Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013 Aug;9(8):1815-8. doi: 10.4161/hv.25250. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


While vaccine acceptance remains high in general, fear of vaccines has grown dramatically in the past several years in many developed countries. In some communities, this fear has led to significantly increased rates of vaccine refusal which are associated with increases in illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases, and large economic costs for health care and society. Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the safety and benefits of vaccination, this fear has proven resistant to information campaigns, a phenomenon well-explained by psychological research which has established that risk perception is subjective, a product of both the facts and how those facts feel. Given the innately emotional and instinctive nature of risk perception, and the risks to public health these perceptions produce, and consistent with well-established legal principles supporting government action to protect the common good, society has the right and responsibility to establish laws, regulations, and choice frameworks that discourage vaccine refusal.

Keywords: exemptions; opt out; refusal; risk; risk perception; vaccination; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Risk Management / methods*
  • Societies
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • Vaccination / psychology
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*


  • Vaccines