The mistake of calling those who doubt about immunization 'anti-vaccines'

Science

By CAPosts 20 November, 2020 - 05:30pm 59 views

"Vaccines and vaccination are two very different things," summarizes Melinda Mills, a researcher at the University of Oxford, in a report for the British Academy in which she explains how to deal with the doubts raised among the population by vaccines against covid. Because these reluctances, which are not resolved in the laboratories, are a global phenomenon: extremely high percentages of citizens in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy or the United States are in no hurry to get vaccinated, something that might seem unthinkable in the spring. And, suddenly, in social conversation they are labeled as anti - vaccines “It has nothing to do with it. They are totally different groups, with very different motivations ”, Rafael Serrano, researcher at the CSIC. "The most important thing now is to know the why, we don't even bother to know them and we are already asking if we have to force people to get vaccinated."

According to various studies , in Spain there are three groups that each encompass more or less a third of the population: those who would be vaccinated immediately, those who express doubts and another with very significant reluctance. Within this last group, would be the most extreme, the so-called anti-vaccines , which are a much smaller percentage. As soon as the arguments are deepened, the differences with this more radical group are observed. The main reason for not wanting to be vaccinated is that "he would get the second or third, not the first vaccine that came out," according to a study by Fecyt for the Ministry of Science. That is, they prefer to wait to see how the immunization goes, they are not against the vaccination itself. In the last CIS, 47% say that they would not be “willing to get vaccinated immediately when they have the vaccine” ( PDF ), and that adverb of time can weigh heavily in the responses.

“It seems that if you have misgivings you are already an anti-vaccine. You have to be very careful when managing these doubts. It is something that gets to piss off and is likely to be penalized ”Celia Díaz, Complutense University

“There is the key, it seems that if you have misgivings you are already an anti-vaccine. But there are many things at stake, such as knowledge about science, the doubts that this career among pharmaceutical companies raises, the development times, the voice of the market ... ”, lists the sociologist Celia Díaz , from the Complutense University, who has investigated the phenomenon of vaccine rejection. "There is a lot of uncertainty and they say: I only do it when they vaccinate others and see results," adds Serrano, director of the Institute for Advanced Social Studies. "Before that we must also intervene, not only do we have to make a plan to distribute, but also to know how to give the message," adds Serrano. On Tuesday the Government will announce its plan, which will supposedly include information campaigns, although the Ministry of Health did not want to confirm it.

In the Fecyt survey, other less important reasons were pointed out, such as doubts about its safety, its effectiveness or the low risk of personal contagion. In this study, carried out in summer, we found another clue that clarifies the difference: the percentage of citizens who believe that vaccines, in general, are not effective or safe, remains stable, around 4% and 6% respectively. Those are the ones against vaccination, a residual percentage that has not grown. The reluctance that has grown is only towards the covid vaccine, which we see live how it develops in record times. Rush is an important element: 78% of Americans feared going too fast for the vaccine, compared with 20% who feared going too slowly.

"You not only have to make a plan to distribute, you also have to know how to deliver the message," adds Serrano. On Tuesday the Government will announce its plan, which will supposedly include information campaigns

There are more factors that contribute to increasing reluctance. Distrust of the country's government and its management of the pandemic also contributes to doubting the vaccine, according to a study carried out in 19 countries published in Nature Medicine . In Spain, the government's assessment after the pandemic is on the ground . Curiously, the voters of the Government parties (PSOE and UP) are the only groups of voters who are more in favor of getting vaccinated as soon as possible, according to the CIS. And the most reluctant, those of Vox. “It is an important factor. Vaccines are not normally related to whether you like the government of the day, but in these circumstances it is closely linked to the management of measures against the covid "says one of the authors of that study, Jeffrey Lazarus , researcher at the ISGlobal (center promoted by the Fundación la Caixa) .

“It is very good to have doubts, if they are legitimate, to want to know what is going on,” says Lazarus, who advocates putting political leaders and the most famous athletes at the top of the line vaccination, to set an example. "I have friends who say they prefer to wait," says Lazarus, "and I tell them that of course they have to wait, that those at risk will be vaccinated first." And he adds: "That's good, so they see how it works when people start taking it here or in other countries." History also shows that initial misgivings are normal when a new vaccine arrives, no matter how long-awaited, until the drugs prove to be efficient and safe. In 1954, when the polio vaccine was released, 31% of Americans did not want to get it .

“We do not use that expression [anti-vaccines] because they are people who doubt and do not have confidence, but we can work with confidence” Jeffrey Lazarus, ISGlobal de Barcelona

There are more elements to think that this scenario of reluctance can change. A study carried out in the USA showed a greater predisposition to be vaccinated if the drug had a low probability of causing side effects and was 90% effective (like those announced these days) and not 50% or 70%. On the other hand, all the studies showing the misgivings were conducted before the efficacy of the vaccines in the running was announced. When people see that vaccines are tangible, and not a pipe dream like a couple of weeks ago, everything can change. But it can also be counterproductive, warn the experts consulted, who judge as negative the competition between pharmaceutical companies with press releases that announce higher percentages every day. "It is not helping much, people lose confidence with this circus," criticizes Lazarus.

It also does not help, they agree, labeling those who simply prefer to wait as anti-vaccines or deniers. "We don't use that expression," says Lazarus, "because they are people who doubt and don't have confidence, but we can work with confidence." For Díaz, that disdain for people who do not see it clearly "is something that gets to piss off and is likely to be penalized." "You have to be very careful when managing these doubts, because in these decisions emotions also weigh a lot and the permanent polarization of the measures is very harmful, when there are only two positions and you have to identify with one or the other", criticizes the socióloga.

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