Vaccine Special Issue on Vaccine Hesitancy
For most readers of “Vaccine,” it is a truism that vaccines represent one of the safest and most effective tools available in global efforts to control and prevent infectious diseases. Yet, parents searching the Internet about whether or not it is safe to get themselves or their children vaccinated will find this consensus recast as a controversy, or even a conspiracy. Many of the top internet search results question or dispute the scientific consensus about the safety and effectiveness of some or all vaccine son a number of grounds, from secular to religious to political-philosophical. The gap between expert consensus and the thinking among many publics around the world is not limited to the Internet.The proliferation of conflicting information and the ease with which misinformation can amplify — via old and new media channels —provide a confusing context for parents seeking additional guidance from health workers, religious leaders, family members, or other trusted sources, many of whom may themselves be misinformed about the risks and benefits of vaccines. In this context, perhaps it is not surprising that some caregivers have become “hesitant” about decisions to vaccinate.