MENU

Dramatic drop in public confidence after Philippines dengue vaccine controversy

12 Oct, 2018
, Source:

The Philippines’ highly politicised response to newly-reported risks of a dengue vaccine led to a dramatic drop in public trust in vaccines overall, in  new research published in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.

Led by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the study measured the impact of the Dengvaxia crisis on overall vaccine confidence before and after the manufacturer highlighted a risk associated with the vaccine and the associated political fallout.

The study of 1,500 participants revealed a dramatic drop in vaccine confidence, from the majority (93%) “strongly agreeing” that vaccines are important in 2015 to a third (32%) in 2018. The researchers say the findings highlight the importance of identifying gaps or breakdowns in public confidence in vaccines in order to rebuild trust before a pandemic strikes.

Dengue is a viral infection spread mainly by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is widespread around the Southern Hemisphere. Symptoms include fever, headache, and pain in joints and muscles. In some cases, symptoms can be more severe and lead to death.

With cases in the Philippines rising from 2012-2015, it was hoped an immunisation campaign with a new dengue vaccine (Dengvaxia), licenced in December 2015, would stem the spread. However, in November 2017, the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, announced that Dengvaxia posed a risk to people who had not previously been exposed to dengue.

While other countries dealt with this assessment by updating guidelines and labelling accordingly, the news triggered outrage and political turmoil in the Philippines leading to broken public trust in the dengue vaccine and anxiety around vaccines in general.

Using the WIN/Gallup International’s representative sampling approach with the Vaccine Confidence Index™, 1,500 participants were re-surveyed in 2018 to analyse the Philippines’ confidence data against 2015 data for the country.

On the vaccine safety question, there was a four-fold drop in confidence from 82% strongly agreeing that vaccines are safe in 2015 to only 21% in 2018, while confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines dropped from 82% in 2015 to 22% in 2018.

Lead author Professor Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at LSHTM, said: “The Sanofi announcement was a spark that fuelled the flames of underlying political ferment in the Philippines. Health authorities and immunisation programmes cannot solve political tensions, but trust issues and potential areas of anxiety and possible dissent must be considered in advance of a pandemic. This is especially important in an era of social media and the ability for mis-information to be spread far and wide at the touch of a button.

“We cannot wait until pandemics strike, but make trust-building an ongoing effort, preparing the ground for the next ‘big one’, when trust and cooperation will be key to containing the spread of disease and mitigating its health and societal impacts.”

 

This entry was posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018 at 9:15 am and is filed under Blog.

Videos Video archive

Emilie Karafillakis, research fellow for the Vaccine Confidence Project, speaks to France 24 about the rising anti-vaccination sentiment that is rising throughout Europe, especially in France where a recent study revealed 1 in 3 citizens believe vaccines are unsafe.

In this episode of Take as Directed, J. Stephen Morrison speaks with Dr. Heidi Larson on why vaccine confidence is currently in crisis, and how this has fueled outbreaks such as measles and the persistence of polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prof Larson discusses vaccine hesitancy and its implications across global health in this webinar.

Literature Literature archive

HC Maltezou, C Ledda, V Rapisarda 2019 Vaccine Vol 37(32): 4419-4658
Sabahelzain MM et al. 2019 PLoS ONE VOl 14 (6): e0213882.
KT Paul, K Loer 2019 Journal of Public Health Policy Volume 40, Issue 2
Subscribe to our mailing list

Click here to go to our GDPR-compliant signup form.

The Vaccine Knowledge Project at the Oxford Vaccine Group