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Anti-Vaxxer Myths Leading to Fatal Outbreaks in 7 Countries




anti-vaxxer movement

Occasional failures of vaccines have misled large masses to believe in anti-vaxxer which is resulting in catastrophic outbreaks with rising cases of deaths and widespread diseases all over the world.

Anti-vaxxer myths have engulfed several countries spawning devastating results with mass deaths and increased number of patients diagnosed with measles. While anti-vaxxer believers still continue to pose questions on the validity of vaccines in America, there are a significant number of countries where anti-vaxxers have already dominated over people to push them away from vaccines.

In America, a total of 159 cases were diagnosed in the first two months of 2019 which is more than that were reported in all of 2017. Despite the widespread availability of proper vaccines, measles caused over 110,000 deaths worldwide in 2017, largely in children under the age of 5.

Major contributing factors to this profusely inadequate health conditions is the populist right-wing parties promoting anti-vaxxer propagandas, religious groups and poor health care systems aggravating the problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled vaccine reluctance as one of the biggest global health threats in 2019.

Here is a brief outlook from 7 countries subdued with the after-math of anti-vaxxer movements.

1. France

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 90% population is vaccinated in France which is significantly less than the desired 90-95% vaccine ratio to achieve herd immunity.

A 2016 study published in the journal E Bio Medicine reveals that around 41% of French respondents questioned the defensibility of vaccines and believed them to be unsafe- far higher than the global average of 12%.

Around 24,000 measles cases were reported in France between 2008-2016, resulting in 10 deaths. In 2019, nearly 250 people have already been diagnosed with measles. To tackle the crisis, the government has made 11 vaccines including measles, mandatory for children born after January 1, 2018.

The French health minister, Agnes Buzyn said, “I do not like to impose obligations, it goes against my character.But with vaccinations it is justified.” However, a strong wave of resistance still persists in France owing to the exploitation of anti-vaxxer propaganda by reactionary politicians.

2. Italy

Italy’s right wing Five Star Movement (M5S), which became part of a populist coalition government in 2018, has allegedly claimed that vaccines are unsafe—

suggesting they can instigate autism and leukaemia in the long run. The M5S leaders have strongly opposed mandatory vaccine systems and in fact, pose in complete reluctance with the idea of banishing vaccine system.

In 2017, around 5,000 people were diagnosed with measles, out of which four unvaccinated people died. This huge outbreak caused the M5S to backpedal on its stringent anti-vaxxer stance and in November 2018, an immediate call for almost a million children to be vaccinated to cease the measle epidemic.

3. Ukraine

Measles has made a massive comeback in Europe on account of inefficient health care systems and anti-vaxxer rhetoric. According to the reports by Ukrainian Government, it is undergoing one of the most severe and tragic measle outbreak with over 53,000 reported cases in 2018 as compared to less than 5,000 in all of 2017.

According to UNICEF, about 24,000 Ukrainians were diagnosed with measles in the first two months of 2019 itself. In a survey conducted in 2012 by the UNICEF, it was found that up to a third Ukrainian parents averse vaccination, and only half of the children were immunized, down to 80% in 2008.

Poor forecasting, lack of funding and governmental corruption is also a notable contributor which hinders proper vaccination for kids.

4. Poland

While vaccination is mandatory in Poland, there has been a steep decline in parents resisting to vaccinating their children. In 2011, over 5,000 people refused to immunise their children which exponentially grew to a much larger number of 23,000 in 2016.

Foreseeably a measle outbreak was reported near Warsaw towards the end of 2018.Kukiz, a right-wing anti-establishment party has helped escalate and propel the anti-vaxxer believers. It supports a group known as Stop NOP ( an acronym for “undesirable post-vaccine reactions”) that protests against mandatory immunizations.

5. England

The anti-vaxxer movement took a pivotal turn when a gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield authored a distressing Lancet study in 1998 associating the MMR vaccine with autism and bowel disease. However, it was found that Wakefield fabricated data which led him to lose his medical license and The lancet renounced the study.

A sharp decline in the population of British children receiving MMR vaccines has been observed since 2014 with just 91.2% in 2018. Unsurprisingly, measles infections tripled in the timeline between 2017 to 2018.

“We are not being helped on this front by the fact that although nine in 10 parents support vaccination, half of them say they have seen fake messages about vaccination on social media.” – National Health service director Simons Stevens stated this blaming social media for its unaccountable rumours.

6. Brazil

Brazil had zero reported cases for measle infections in 2017, which increased to 10,262 diagnosis and 12 deaths. The outbreak was believed to be sparked by the refugees from Venezuela which shares a border with Brazil in the Northern states of Amazonas. In 2017, over 40,000 Venezuelans sought refugee in Brazil which still go unmonitored about their health care systems including vaccinations and immunisations.

The epidemic was also stimulated by the lack of vaccinated populace in Brazil with a count of almost one-third. An unproven statement took circles on social media in 2017 in Brazil which stated that the Zika virus is a result of the vaccine.

7. Japan

With more than 170 cases diagnosed with measles in 2019, Japan is facing its worst measles outbreak in a decade. A significant role in the epidemic is played by an anti-vax religious group KyuseiShinkyo, which misguided the population into believing that vaccines are harmful and cause prolonged diseases.

Researchers say that Japan is almost a decade behind Europe and North America in its vaccination policies which is causing increased outbreaks in the country.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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