WHO Chief worried about public attitudes to vaccination

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

January 25th, 2011

Gary Finnegan

‘Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says she has become increasingly concerned by the number of people who hold anti-vaccine views, even in the face of evidence showing their fears are unfounded.’

Margaret_chanIn a speech to the WHO executive board, Dr Chan said this is a worrying trend and she called on experts to consider ways of tackling the problem.

“In some cases, persuading the public to seek vaccination has become even more problematic than during the [H1N1] pandemic. As documented in the report on immunization, the problem of public mistrust extends well beyond influenza vaccines,” she said.

The WHO chief suggested perceptions had been irreversibly damaged by a series of scare stories which are now fixed in the public mind.

“We may need to accept the fact that public perceptions about vaccine safety can be permanently changed by unfounded fears, to an extent that no amount of evidence can change the public’s mind. This is a worrisome new trend that needs to be addressed,” she said.

Is Dr Chan right? Have perceptions been “permanently changed” and, if so, how can she urge the WHO to address a problem which she presents as irreversible?

The full speech is available on the WHO website

Have public perceptions been ‘permanently changed’ or can this trend be reversed?

Let us know what you think by posting in our comments section


  1. Audrey


    June 27th, 2011

    Thanks for the good article. I must query a couple of details. Can I post them here or should I email you.

    • Gary Finnegan

      Gary Finnegan

      July 4th, 2011

      Please feel free to post them here and we’ll do our best to provide any additional information.