Climate resilience Vaccine hesitancy rising as climate-related disease spreads

COVID increased vaccine hesitancy. With immunisation crucial to protect against the impacts of climate change, the test is how to restore vaccine confidence.
By: 360 Organization
 
NEW YORK - Feb. 5, 2024 - PRLog -- By: Alessandro Siani, University of Portsmouth

As climate change causes more extreme weather events, increased rainfall and rising temperatures, it's increasing the spread of infectious diseases.

While this claim might sound like scaremongering, it is not a prediction â€" it's already happening now in our cities, as exemplified by news reports of the streets of Paris being fumigated to limit the spread of tiger mosquitoes known to carry Zika and dengue.

Vaccines are a key tool in the fight against these diseases. They can protect against some tropical and mosquito-borne illnesses, such as Japanese encephalitis, dengue or yellow fever, as well as many diseases that can thrive when drought and flooding reduce access to clean water, such as cholera and hepatitis A.

With new global pandemics also predicted to emerge with climate change, vaccines will likely play a key role in mitigating their most devastating impacts. But troublingly, vaccine hesitancy appears to have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's not just COVID vaccines that are subject to this hesitancy, but vaccines more broadly â€" even those that have been successfully used for decades and led to the near-eradication of some infectious diseases.

Just a few days ago, the UK Health Security Agency warned that urgent action should be taken to curb the re-emergence of measles outbreaks caused by the decline in MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine coverage in some communities. The increase in vaccine scepticism presents a real challenge for healthcare organisations and national governments as they attempt to incorporate a climate resilience lens into their public health plans.

Almost a quarter of people have less confidence in vaccines post-COVID
The decline in vaccine confidence was a key finding of a study I carried out with my student Amy Tranter comparing survey data collected before and after the onset of the pandemic.

The results were troubling: They showed that confidence in vaccinations was considerably lower in 2022 compared to 2019 across all demographic groups. Almost one quarter (23.8 percent) of participants in 2022 reported their confidence in vaccines had declined since the onset of the pandemic. A decrease in vaccine confidence was found across participants' ages, genders, religious beliefs, education levels and ethnicities.

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