Mandatory Vaccination is Not the Solution

Researchers from the United Aram Emirates University and Abu Dhabi University analyzed parents’ vaccine hesitancy and discovered that the main concerns for vaccine-hesitant parents were about the vaccine’s safety and side effects. They recommend to encourage trust in healthcare providers, rather than focusing only on issue mandatory vaccination laws.

Vaccine hesitancy has never been as much of a challenge as it is today, especially now that the vaccine for the coronavirus has the potential to help conquer the novel coronavirus. However, vaccine hesitancy has other far-reaching consequences. Vaccinations are preventing 2-3 million deaths every year. 

Not all people who are hesitant of vaccination are alike. Some refuse certain vaccines, but have no issues with accepting others. Others may not object to getting all recommended vaccines, but choose to prolong the time interval between each vaccination. These decisions are greatly driven by the information and encouragement people receive on social media and in the traditional media. In 2013 in Italy there was an 18% decline in influenza vaccine acceptance, based mostly on negative publications in the media.

Researchers from the United Arab Emirates University and Abu Dhabi University have recently set out to assess parents’ vaccine hesitancy in the United Arab Emirates. Efforts like this one are particularly important as new movements against vaccination constantly sprout around the world. 

The researchers examined a sample of parents attending the antenatal and postnatal clinics in Al-Ain city in the United Arab Emirates. Parents were approached in the clinics and asked to fill in a questionnaire. The total sample size was 300 respondents , which was easily large enough to obtain a statistically significant representative sample of the population.

Of all 300 surveyed parents, 16% reported that they had delayed their children’s vaccinations. Of those, a further 6% had decided not to vaccinate their children at all. Parents’ greatest concerns were about the vaccine side effects (35%), its safety (28% concerned) and about the number of injections (28%).

Factors associated with vaccine hesitancy. Source

Based on the responses to the survey, the researchers determined that 12% of the studied parents were vaccine-hesitant. These findings are similar to the statistics obtained in Malaysia and Iraq, but are dramatically lower than the percentage of vaccine-hesitant parents in Saudi Arabia (20%), the United States (30.4%) and Italy (34.7%). 

Similar studies have uncovered that parents who refused vaccines were especially concerned about their safety and perceived benefits. The same result was demonstrated in this research, which means that in order to increase vaccination rate, healthcare providers must understand parents’ concerns about the vaccines and address them in a way that’s relevant for their set of beliefs. Additionally, healthcare provides must incur trust in their patients, as trust seems to be one of the other main factors involved in parents’ decision to vaccinate their children.

Finally, the researchers stress that mandatory vaccine must not be the only approach to be taken by healthcare providers. Instead, a multi-pronged approach needs to be considered and implemented. First and foremost, parents need to be properly informed and encouraged to trust their medical doctors.

The researchers involved in this research were Ahmed R. Alsuwaidi, Sania Al-Hamad, Mohamud Sheek-Hussein, and Hassib Narchi from the United Arab Emirates University, Iffat Elbarazi from Abu Dhabi University, and Ruwaya Aldhaheri from Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

Original content by Nawartna

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