The World Health Organization including the anti-vaccine movement as one of its top ten health threats facing the global population this year.
The WHO said that delaying or refusing vaccines despite their availability is one of the main health risks in countries around the globe.
Without vaccines, the WHO said, an additional 2 to 3 million people would die each year.
“Despite this, a sizable minority of people in several countries around the globe refuse vaccines (for themselves or their children)—or hesitate to accept them—even when they are readily available, a phenomenon known collectively as ‘vaccine hesitancy,’” the WHO report said. “This can make it a difficult task to achieve sufficient levels of coverage in a population, mitigating the effects of ‘herd immunity’ and potentially leading to outbreaks of disease. For example, vaccine hesitancy has been identified as one potential factor contributing to the 30 percent increase in measles cases globally.”
Along with vaccine hesitancy, the WHO listed air pollution, climate change, the global flu pandemic, antimicrobial resistance, Ebola, and HIV among its top 10 health threats.
Anti-Vaxxer movement grows:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children between 19 months and 35 months who have not been vaccinated at all has increased by 400 percent.
“Since 2009, the number of 'philosophical-belief' vaccine non-medical exemptions has risen in 12 of the 18 states that currently allow this policy: Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah,” said a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Despite the trend, less than 1 percent of toddlers have never been vaccinated.
Anti-vaxxer movement was sparked by fraudulent study:
“The study, led by the now discredited physician-researcher Andrew Wakefield, involved 12 children and suggested there’s a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine — which is administered to millions of children around the world each year — and autism,” Vox reported. “The study was subsequently thoroughly debunked. The Lancet retracted the paper and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. Autism researchers have shown decisively again and again that the developmental disorder is not caused by vaccines.”
Image via Pan American Health Organization PAHO/Flickr