Image copyright Getty Images Image caption India, Pakistan and Nigeria are holding back the vaccine for their own children
So far there are a few signs that vaccine hesitancy and hesitancy to vaccinate are not as bad as previously feared. But as concerns grow about the potency of childhood vaccines against the human papillomavirus (HPV), questions about their safety and efficacy are increasingly being asked.
The anti-vaccine lobby and pseudoscience outfits claim there are harmful side effects of vaccinations. Some of these science-based groups, like Generation Rescue and independent doctor Andrew Wakefield, have gained enormous public support from a grassroots organisation, the large-scale immunisation campaigns themselves being largely concerned with what is known as herd immunity.
When population immunity is raised to a certain level (such as after several vaccines have been given to close to a million people), anyone who fails to get immunised is ‘vaccinated out’.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Attacks on vaccines come despite large-scale immunisation campaigns
A longstanding focus of major immunisation campaigns has been, however, the two dominant vaccine types: vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and hepatitis B. Between those two there is now substantial evidence that vaccines can cause autism in some children.
Earlier this year the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government agency that funds and runs many immunisation campaigns, said that parents and children would need to be vaccinated for HPV.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A case in point is Australia, where vaccination rates for the HPV vaccine are quite low
Rates of overall immunisation are up in Britain, in part due to concerns over bowel disease in young people, which has been linked to allergies, and to well-known cases of vaccine-preventable diseases. But in other areas, like Australia where the response to the 2014 documentary Catching a Killer has been controversial, parents are still hesitant about vaccine after vaccine, and uptake rates for many vaccines remain low, sometimes in the tens of percent.
In the European Union (EU), vaccination rates are generally above 85% for most vaccines. And while the availability of voluntary vaccination is common, and often contributes to the vaccine’s uptake rate, vaccination campaigns for a variety of vaccines, such as vaccination of countries’ children against rubella, are still seen as the easiest route to increasing immunisation rates.
Click here to read more from Jeremy Farrar on vaccines from the BBC World Service.
It’s likely that all countries across the world will see their immunisation levels rise in years to come as interest among parents grows.