Vaccine Hesitancy as a Challenge or Vaccine Confidence as an Opportunity for Childhood Immunisation in India

Infect Dis Ther. 2020 May 23. doi: 10.1007/s40121-020-00302-9. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Vaccines have contributed substantially to decreasing the morbidity and mortality rates of many infectious diseases worldwide. Despite this achievement, an increasing number of parents have adopted hesitant behaviours towards vaccines, delaying or even refusing their administration to children. This has implications not only on individuals but also society in the form of outbreaks for e.g. measles, chicken pox, hepatitis A, etc. A review of the literature was conducted to identify the determinants of vaccine hesitancy (VH) as well as vaccine confidence and link them to challenges and opportunities associated with vaccination in India, safety concerns, doubts about the need for vaccines against uncommon diseases and suspicions towards new vaccines were identified as major vaccine-specific factors of VH. Lack of awareness and limited access to vaccination sites were often reported by hesitant parents. Lastly, socio-economic level, educational level and cultural specificities were contextual factors of VH in India. Controversies and rumours around some vaccines (e.g., human papillomavirus) have profoundly impacted the perception of the risks and benefits of vaccination. Challenges posed by traditions and cultural behaviours, geographical specificities, socio-demographic disparities, the healthcare system and vaccine-specific features are highlighted, and opportunities to improve confidence are identified. To overcome VH and promote vaccination, emphasis should be on improving communication, educating the new generation and creating awareness among the society. Tailoring immunisation programmes as per the needs of specific geographical areas or communities is also important to improve vaccine confidence.Fig. 1Plain language summary.

Keywords: Immunisation; India; Vaccination; Vaccine confidence; Vaccine hesitancy.

Publication types

  • Review