NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - People who refuse to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines are leading to a global health threat according to United Nations officials.
The World Health Organization(WHO) says vaccine hesitancy threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. It says that vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.
Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.
The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.
If humans were to stop vaccinations, "more children would get sick and more would die," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal agency warns that with a decrease in vaccinations, "diseases that are almost unknown would stage a comeback."
In 2019, WHO says it will ramp up work to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide by increasing coverage of the HPV vaccine, among other interventions.
The organization says that 2019 may also be the year when transmission of wild poliovirus is stopped in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, less than 30 cases were reported in both countries.