Public confidence in vaccine safety lowering

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The general credibility of vaccines has been impacted by misinformation, according to a recent survey.

Public confidence in vaccine safety lowering | Image Credit: © AntonioDiaz - © AntonioDiaz - stock.adobe.com.

Public confidence in vaccine safety lowering | Image Credit: © AntonioDiaz - © AntonioDiaz - stock.adobe.com.

This article was initially published by our sister publication Medical Economics.

The confidence of the general public in the safety of vaccines appears to be waning, according to a recent survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Takeaways

  • Public confidence in vaccine safety has decreased over the past three years, with only 71% of Americans considering vaccines safe in the most recent survey, down from 77% in April 2021.
  • Misinformation about vaccines is on the rise, with a significant increase in the number of people believing false claims, such as vaccines causing autism or mRNA vaccines causing cancer.
  • Confidence in COVID-19 vaccines has decreased, as only 63% of respondents in the survey considered it safer to get the COVID-19 vaccine than to risk the disease itself, down from 75% in April 2021.
  • The survey highlighted persistent misconceptions about vaccines, including the belief that the influenza vaccine can give you the flu, which 29% of respondents still hold.
  • The American Medical Group Association's "Rise to Immunize" campaign has made progress in promoting adult vaccinations, with over 11.93 million vaccines administered in the first 2 years, aiming to reach 25 million shots by 2025.

While a majority of individuals still believe that immunizations are safe for patients, this belief has seen a decline over the past 3 years. In the most recent survey, only 71% of Americans believed that vaccines approved for use in the United States are safe, compared to 77% in April 2021. Concurrently, the percentage of adults who expressed doubts about the safety of vaccines increased from 9% to 16% during the same period.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the survey and the Annenberg Public Policy Center, expressed concern over these findings, stating, "There are warning signs in these data that we ignore at our peril. Growing numbers now distrust health-protecting, life-saving vaccines."

The study, titled "Vaccine Confidence Falls as Belief in Health Misinformation Grows," revealed several noteworthy trends:

  1. Only 63% of respondents considered it safer to receive the COVID-19 vaccine than risk contracting the disease itself, a significant drop from the 75% recorded in April 2021.
  2. The number of people incorrectly believing that ivermectin is an effective treatment for COVID-19 increased from 10% in September 2021 to 26%. However, the percentage of those recognizing this misinformation as false also rose from 27% to 37%, while the number of people unsure decreased from 63% to 38%.
  3. About 67% of respondents reported having returned to their pre-COVID lifestyles, and 75% stated that they seldom or never wear masks or face coverings.
  4. An alarming 16% of respondents believed that the increased use of vaccines is responsible for the rising incidence of autism in children, up from 10% in April 2021.
  5. Regarding the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, 12% of people now wrongly believe it causes autism, an increase from 9% in June 2021, although 70% correctly recognize this claim as false.
  6. Misconceptions about mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 causing cancer also increased, with 12% holding this belief, up from 9% in January of the same year. However, 58% of respondents correctly refuted this idea.
  7. Only 51% of people correctly stated that an influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu, while 29% believed it could. This finding remained consistent with the data from January.

Furthermore, the survey revealed significant decreases in the credibility of vaccine safety for diseases such as MMR, pneumonia, and COVID-19.

These findings were released just ahead of an announcement by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), which reported the interim results of its "Rise to Immunize" campaign for adult patients. This 4-year initiative encourages four key vaccinations: flu, pneumococcal pneumonia, Td/Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and zoster.

Participating medical groups and health systems have administered over 11.93 million vaccines in the first two years, with a goal of reaching 25 million shots by 2025. AMGA Chief Medical Officer and AMGA Foundation President John Kennedy, MD, praised the efforts, stating that AMGA members are making significant progress in reducing vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.

This article was rewritten with the help of ChatGPT.

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