Thursday 17 October 2019

Quarter of Irish people don't trust vaccines as debate rages over jabs

Only 74pc of Irish people believe vaccines are safe. Stock photo: REUTERS
Only 74pc of Irish people believe vaccines are safe. Stock photo: REUTERS
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Irish people have a lower than average belief that vaccines are safe, according to a new global survey.

Just 74pc of people here express trust in vaccines, less than the global average of 79pc.

However, only half say they strongly agree on the protection of vaccines, although 90pc say they are "important for children to have".

The global survey of more than 140,000 people, conducted by biomedical research charity Wellcome, found there is less certainty about the safety of vaccines in high-income regions, with 72pc of people in Northern America and 59pc in Western Europe agreeing they are safe.

Ireland has still not met the 95pc national take-up rate for vaccines, such as the MMR jab to protect against measles and mumps, diseases which continue to pose a threat here.

In the UK, 75pc of people agreed vaccines are safe, with 9pc disagreeing, while in France a third of people disagreed that vaccines are safe - the highest percentage for any country in the world.

Charlie Weller, Wellcome's head of vaccines, said: "It is reassuring that almost all parents worldwide are vaccinating their children.

"However, there are pockets of lower confidence in vaccines across the world and we cannot afford to be complacent.

"To ensure society gets the full benefit of vaccines, we need to make sure that people have confidence in both the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and understand more about the complex reasons why this is not always the case."

The study comes amid a growing debate over whether mandatory vaccination should be introduced in Ireland and UK for children starting school.

Anti-vaccination groups have been blamed for some parents not vaccinating their children with the MMR vaccine, following Andrew Wakefield's discredited research linking autism to the jab.

The three countries with the highest numbers of parents who are claiming to not vaccinate their children are China (9pc), Austria (8pc) and Japan (7pc).

Irish Independent

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