SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

France has lowest level of trust in vaccines in the world, new study shows

France has the lowest levels of trust in vaccines globally, according to the world's biggest survey on public attitudes toward health and science, which was published on Wednesday.

France has lowest level of trust in vaccines in the world, new study shows
Photo: AFP

A third (33 percent) of French people do not agree that immunisation is safe, and it is also the only country where a majority (55 percent) believe science and technology will reduce the total number of jobs available, according to the poll of more than 140,000 people across 144 countries. 

The survey of people aged 15 and older was devised by Wellcome, a British medical charity, and conducted by Gallup World Poll between April and December 2018.

READ ALSO Why France is increasingly concerned about the steep rise in measles cases

It found that people living in high-income countries have the lowest confidence in vaccines, a result that ties in to the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, in which people refuse to believe in the benefits of vaccinations or claim that the treatment is dangerous.

An estimated 169 million children missed out on the vital first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, according to a UN report issued in April. 

In the US alone, the number of cases of the disease this year has exceeded a thousand, according to the latest official figures.

“I think we expected that general trend, because where we have seen that skepticism and concern about vaccines, that tends to be in developed countries,” Imran Khan, Wellcome's head of public engagement, who led the study, told AFP. 

“But I think the extent of the difference is surprising and some of those numbers were really startling.”

Globally, 79 percent of people agreed that vaccines are safe and 84 percent said they were effective.

On the other end of the spectrum from France, Bangladesh and Rwanda had the highest levels of confidence in vaccines, with almost 100 percent in both countries agreeing they were safe, effective and important for children to have.

The lowest confidence levels in relation to vaccines were in Western Europe where more than a fifth (22 percent) of people disagree that vaccines are safe, and in Eastern Europe where 17 percent disagreed that vaccines are effective.

“I guess you could call it the 'complacency effect,'” said Khan. “If you look at those countries in our survey which have very high rates of confidence in vaccines, places like Bangladesh and Egypt, these are areas where you do have more infectious disease.

“Perhaps what you see is the people in those countries can see what happens if you don't vaccinate.”

He added this contrasts with more developed countries where, “if you don't get vaccinated, you're still less likely to catch that infection, and if you do get infected, you might not become as unwell or might not die, because we've got quite good healthcare systems in place.”

France was also the only country in the survey where most people believed science and technology would reduce jobs.

“Although much more research is needed to understand why this might be the case, the sluggish performance of the French economy over the last few years may be one factor that contributes to this sentiment,” the report said.

The report also found a global gender divide in self-reported levels of knowledge of science.

Globally, 49 percent of men worldwide say they know “some” or “a lot” about science, compared to 38 percent of women.

The gender gap existed even when men and women reported equal levels of science attainment, and was widest in the Northern European region.

“What's likely to be going on there is men are more confident or overconfident for the same level of knowledge, or equally we can say that women are under confident,” said Khan.

Wellcome said it hoped its findings would provide governments a baseline to monitor how attitudes change over time and help inform policy, particularly in regards to immunization, with recent measles outbreaks demonstrating herd immunity can no longer be taken for granted.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

SHOW COMMENTS