Conventional wisdom suggests that if there is a vaccine that is effective in preventing a disease, vaccine uptake will increase when the disease risk is high. Recent evidence, however, suggests that this may not always be the case. In a study we conducted in Washington State, we found no population-level increase in pertussis vaccination of infants during a pertussis epidemic. In this paper, we aim to review what is known about the history of vaccine uptake during epidemics of vaccine-preventable disease, the challenges facing public health campaigns responding to these epidemics, and how the effect of a vaccine-preventable disease epidemic on vaccine uptake can be studied.
Keywords: epidemics; epidemiological study characteristics; health communication; public health; vaccination.