In 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?
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