A vaccine is the world’s best hope of overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic. So why do so many people say they won’t have the vaccine?

Declining trust in science and politicians is one explanation. So what can be done to restore trust in vaccines? Because we need around 70% of the population to take it for it to be effective.

Public confidence in vaccines tends to be lower in countries with high support for populist political parties and leaders. The false information from these governments and their failure to control the virus, leads to popular mistrust of elites and experts. The people feel lied to.

Anti-vaxxers are a vocal minority feeding on the public’s fear and concerns that the vaccine is not safe. They often say things like, “We want the Truth”, “we are being lied to”, “we can’t trust them”.

Some people, even after all these years, still believe the MMR controversy from 1998, caused by the false claims of the now discredited Dr A Wakefield. As a result measles is now on the increase again in the UK.

There is a huge amount of public health misinformation online. Fake news gains the upper hand in the hearts and minds of those unsure, fearful and mistrustful of the official information.

Also, the fake news gains “clicks” on social media by being deliberately sensational. And when people are scared they are more likely to bite and swallow it, “hook, line and sinker”.

So please keep a big dose of healthy scepticism, but listen to both sides of the argument and make up your own mind.

And stay safe.

by Neil Fairbairn

Based on a YouTube video: Covid-19: why vaccine mistrust is growing, by The Economist

NOTE: Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author only and not necessarily of the CLP or its wider membership.

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