Fact vs Fallacy: The Anti-Vaccine Discussion Reloaded

Adv Ther. 2020 Nov;37(11):4481-4490. doi: 10.1007/s12325-020-01502-y. Epub 2020 Sep 23.

Abstract

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccine sentiments have been on the rise, with a recent seminal study on the development of anti-vaccine views in social media even making its way into Nature Communications. Yet, with the current scientific consensus being in overwhelming agreement over the safety and efficacy of vaccines, many scientists lose their grasp on the fears, concerns, and arguments that the opposition may hold. This paper discusses and evaluates vaccine-hesitant individuals on a socioeconomic, historical, and philosophical landscape. It also provides an analysis of common argumentative patterns and the psychological impact that these arguments may have on undecided individuals. The discussion also explores why anti-vaccine sentiments are on the rise, and how members of the scientific and medical community require a more structured approach to communicating key arguments. This is particularly important if vaccination rates and herd immunity are to be sustained. No longer is it sufficient to win arguments based on a factual and scientific basis, but rather scientists and medical practitioners have to focus on conveying confidence and reassurance on both an informative and emotional level to those with doubts and fears.

Keywords: Anti-vaccination movement; COVID-19 vaccine; Immunization; Infectious disease; Mass vaccination; Vaccination refusal; Vaccine; Vaccine hesitancy.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Media
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology*
  • Vaccination / psychology*
  • Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines

Substances

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines