PLOS Currents: Outbreaks issues a call for papers in collaboration with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the issue of vaccine hesitancy.
The prevention of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, rubella, or polio, is dependent on herd immunity. Yet ensuring widespread vaccination coverage is complicated by a wide range of factors, not least vaccine hesitancy, through which segments of the public are uncertain about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations.
In May 2013 the ECDC hosted a multi-disciplinary scoping meeting to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy. Participants came from the fields of psychology, anthropology, epidemiology and medicine to discuss trends in the public acceptance of vaccines, with the following objectives:
• to explore the key drivers behind recent trends in measles epidemiology and vaccination coverage in Europe
• to identify and conceptualize the myriad social and political factors that affect individual decision-making as concerns vaccination
• to identify and examine best practices in public health for monitoring and addressing public mistrust in vaccines
• to identify potential ECDC activities in this field
Jonathan Suk, an expert on the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health at the ECDC, raised some important questions and discussion points from the meeting:
It was generally agreed that individuals assess for themselves the risk and benefits of vaccination, and that for most people, their assessments exist along a continuum – although some people may have polarised standpoints, many more are somewhere in the middle, amending their viewpoints as they receive new information. This insight raises important questions about which information people receive and how they receive it. What sources information are deemed to be credible, and not? What types of information affect public opinion more than others? Are there ways to monitor and even predict trends in vaccine hesitancy and how these affect vaccination coverage rates? These questions are incredibly challenging, and if there was one unanimous decision from the scoping meeting it was that answering them requires a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort.
In order to continue this discussion, the ECDC is collaborating with PLOS Currents: Outbreaks to host a call for papers on vaccine hesitancy and contemporary vaccination coverage from a multidisciplinary perspective. We invite researchers from a wide range of disciplines to contribute original research that addresses vaccine hesitancy and barriers to vaccination. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, we look forward to expanding the conversation.