A recently published survey by the Wellcome Trust, which surveyed people around the world on their vaccination beliefs, found that 22% of those surveyed in Switzerland strongly or somewhat disagreed that vaccines are safe.
Only France (33%), Gabon (26%), Togo (25%) and Russia (24%) had higher percentages of people strongly or somewhat disagreeing that vaccines are safe.
These percentages of people concerned about the safety of vaccines contrast starkly with those in Bangladesh (3%), Egypt (3%), Ethiopia (4%), Tanzania (4%), Liberia (4%) and many other countries.
In countries with high levels of skepticism, such as France, the survey’s results reveal no meaningful correlations with education, gender, geography or age.
However, people with more trust in scientists, doctors and nurses tend to be more likely to agree that vaccines are safe. Conversely, those who have recently sought information about science, medicine or health appear to be less likely to agree that vaccines are safe. What lies behind this is unclear. Researcher do not know if this skepticism is born from some characteristic present in those seeking such information or if there is something in the information they find.
Regarding vaccine effectiveness, Switzerland’s population is less skeptical. Only 7% strongly or somewhat disagree that vaccines are effective, in contract to France where the same percentage is 19%, the second highest behind Liberia (28%).
Globally, more than 90% of parents say their children have been vaccinated, and even in skeptical countries like France, it seems that many people who doubt the safety or effectiveness of vaccines still agree to having their children vaccinated – around 96% of French 6 year olds are vaccinated against Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
In Switzerland, vaccination rates are high too. For example, in 2018, among 16 years olds in Switzerland, 97% had been vaccinated for Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Tenanus. Vaccinations for other diseases such as Tick-borne encephalitis (47%) are lower however – at the beginning of 2019 the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) confirmed that vaccination against tick borne encephalitis is now covered by basic Swiss health insurance.