Refuse to Vaccinate
Parental Refusal to Vaccinate is a growing a concern for the increased occurrence of vaccine preventable diseases in children. A number of studies have looked into the reasons that parents refuse, delay, or are hesitant to vaccinate their child(ren):
- religious reasons
- personal beliefs or philosophical reasons
- safety concerns
- desire for more information from healthcare providers
Parental concerns about vaccines in each category lead to a wide spectrum of decisions varying from parents completely refusing all vaccinations to only delaying vaccinations so that they are more spread out.
Refusal to Vaccinate
A large subset of parents admits to having concerns and questions about childhood vaccinations. For this reason, it can be helpful for pharmacists and other healthcare providers to understand the cited reasons for hesitancy so they are better prepared to educate their patients’ families. Education is a key player in equipping parents with the necessary information so that they can make responsible immunization decisions for their children.
“Vaccine hesitancy” is a relatively new term used in research over the past few years to describe anyone who is doubtful about vaccinations or who chooses to delay or refuse immunizations even when they are readily available. Vaccines play a vital role in preventing diseases in children, so it is crucial that pharmacists and other healthcare professionals understand the reasons that parents are hesitant or refuse to vaccinate their children.
Reasons for hesitation
One of the most common reasons parents offer for choosing not to vaccinate their children stems from their religious beliefs. With only 4 states not offering exemptions to families for this reason, it poses a major obstacle to those seeking to increase childhood vaccination rates.
Personal Beliefs or Philosophical Reasons
Another common reason that parents give for refusing or delaying vaccinating their children is personal or philosophical reasons. Although only a handful of states allow exemptions for this cause, it must be carefully studied, as it may present opportunities for practitioners to enlighten parents regarding the urgency of protecting the children through preventive measures. Though it seems contrary to human intuition, there is a group of people who see some benefit in having their children contract certain preventable diseases.
A third, and potentially the greatest, reason parents express for refusing vaccinations for their children are concerns about the safety of vaccines. Most of these concerns are based on information these parents have discovered in the media or received from acquaintances. Regardless of whether the stories stem from television, the Internet, radio, or from family and friends, parents are constantly bombarded with other peoples’ opinions about vaccinations.
Desire for Additional Education
The fourth common thread is that parents want more information regarding vaccinations. They want to be able to make informed decisions about their child’s healthcare by knowing both the benefits and risks associated with each vaccine.
If pharmacists and other healthcare providers are able to understand the main concerns parents have about vaccinating their children, they can be better prepared to have informative conversations about immunizations. They will also be able to provide the information parents need to make the best-informed decisions for their children. Parents who are hesitant to vaccinate or who refuse vaccines care about their children and want to do what they can to protect them, just like any other parent. It is important for practitioners to have open and frank conversations with their patients and their families so that the families will understand the benefits of vaccination without feeling attacked or judged for having questions about their child’s healthcare.
When is there a vaccine for the Coronavirus?
Coronavirus still poses a significant threat, but there are no vaccines proven to protect the body against the disease it causes - Covid-19.
However there are around 40 different coronavirus vaccines in clinical trials - including one being developed by the University of Oxford that is already in an advanced stage of testing.
Why is a coronavirus vaccine important?
The virus spreads easily, and the majority of the world's population is still vulnerable to it. A vaccine would provide some protection by training people's immune systems to fight the virus so they should not become sick.
This would allow lockdowns to be lifted more safely, and social distancing to be relaxed.
What sort of progress is being made?
Research is happening at breakneck speed. About 240 vaccines are in early development, with 40 in clinical trials and nine already in the final stage of testing on thousands of people.
- Trials of the Oxford vaccine show it can trigger an immune response, and a deal has been signed with AstraZeneca to supply 100 million doses in the UK alone.
- The first human trial data back in May indicated the first eight patients taking part in a US study all produced antibodies that could neutralise the virus.
- A trial using viral proteins to develop an immune response is underway.
- A group in China showed a vaccine was safe and led to protective antibodies being made. It is being made available to the Chinese military.
- Other completely new approaches to vaccine development are in human trials.
However, no-one knows how effective any of these vaccines will be.
- A vaccine would normally take years, if not decades, to develop. Researchers hope to achieve the same amount of work in only a few months.
- Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become widely available by mid-2021, about 12-18 months after the new virus, known officially as Sars-CoV-2, first emerged.
- That would be a huge scientific feat, and there are no guarantees it will work.
- But scientists are optimistic that, if trials are successful, then a small number of people - such as healthcare workers - may be vaccinated before the end of this year.
- It is worth noting that four coronaviruses already circulate in human beings. They cause common cold symptoms and we don't have vaccines for any of them.