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For the first time, parents who are not "vaccine opponents" and who usually vaccinate their children according to the routine vaccinations, hesitated or refused to vaccinate their children this time

This is according to a study by researchers of the Department of Public Health at the University of Haifa published in the December issue of the Journal of Risk Research found that despite the high vaccination rate in the "Two Drops" campaign - against the polio epidemic

A girl in Peshawar, Pakistan, receives an attenuated polio vaccine in drops in 2002. Photo: shutterstock
A girl in Peshawar, Pakistan, receives an attenuated polio vaccine in drops in 2002. Photo: shutterstock


The topic of "vaccination refusal" often makes headlines in the media and is very troubling to health authorities all over the world. However, it turns out that even parents who are not "vaccine refusers", and who usually vaccinate their children in accordance with the routine vaccination program, may hesitate or refuse to vaccinate their children when the information provided to them about the vaccine by the health authorities is partial or vague, and when they fear the safety of the vaccine. This finding was indicated by a study conducted within the Department of Public Health at the University of Haifa by Dr. Anat Gasser-Edelsburg, Dr. Yaffe Shir-Rez and Prof. Manfred Green, and published in the December issue of the Journal of Risk Research.

The study focused on the polio vaccination campaign conducted last summer in Israel by the Ministry of Health, following the discovery of the polio virus in sewage water in several regions of the country, and as part of which parents throughout the country were called to give children up to the age of nine the attenuated polio vaccine (OPV). The campaign, called "Two Drops" was crowned by the Ministry of Health as an impressive success, when a high percentage of parents vaccinated their children.

But despite the high vaccination rate - the study revealed that for the first time, parents who are not opposed to vaccines, and who usually vaccinate their children according to the routine vaccination program, showed hesitation this time, and some even refused to vaccinate their children. The study was based on a survey conducted among about 200 parents, and in addition, on the analysis of 2,499 discussions of parents in blogs, forums, talkbacks on news sites and Facebook pages.

The findings of the study indicate that one of the main reasons for parents' hesitation and refusal to vaccinate - a factor that emerged from the responses of over a third of the parents who refused or hesitated (32%) - was a lack of trust in the health system. This is, among other things, due to the choice of the Director General of the Ministry of Health at the time, Roni Gamzo, to describe the risk involved in giving the vaccine as "zero". For example, one of the parents explained in the talkback: "I want one simple thing: that the people of the Ministry of Health do not use language like 'this vaccine has 0% risk.' There is a difference between saying 'no connection found' and 'no connection'. No serious scientific journal would ever make the latter claim, and I think the standards should be the same when addressing the public."
Also, 40% of the parents who hesitated or refused to vaccinate claimed that the explanations provided by the Ministry of Health regarding the campaign and vaccination were contradictory and insufficient.

On top of that, it became clear that the fact that the OPV vaccine had no benefit for the children themselves was also a major factor in the parents' considerations, as opposed to the concerns about the risks involved in giving the vaccine. Thus, 40% of the parents who refused or hesitated explained this by saying that their child was already protected, since he received the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), and 33% of them attributed this to concerns regarding the safety of the vaccine.

Another factor in the system of considerations was the questioning to what extent the outbreak of a polio epidemic in Israel is a real scenario. This, in light of the fact that in practice, there was not a single case of polio in Israel. In addition, 39% of the parents who hesitated or refused to vaccinate claimed that their first responsibility as parents is towards their children and not towards society, therefore they see no reason to endanger their children "for the common good".

Another interesting finding that emerged from the study was that some parents did vaccinate their children - they did so because they believed that the vaccine protected them. This, while in fact, babies and children vaccinated with the IPV vaccine are not likely to get polio, but only to be carriers of the virus, so their vaccination with OPV is intended to create a "herd vaccine" that will protect the entire population, but not the children themselves.
"The findings of the study emphasize the centrality of risk communication in relation to diseases and their prevention in general, and in relation to vaccines in particular, and point to the difficulty of the health system in framing the issue of vaccines as a means of disease prevention," says Dr. Gasser-Edelsburg, head of the health promotion program at the University's School of Public Health Haifa. "In this unique case, the difficulty in framing the vaccine was particularly noticeable, in light of the fact that the OPV is not intended to protect the individual (the child), but the entire population."

However, alongside the objective difficulty, the findings also emphasize the importance of transparency and credibility in health communication. Providing full and clear information, including disclosure of dilemmas on issues about which there is uncertainty, increases public trust and may improve its cooperation, especially in health crisis situations. On the other hand, a patronizing attitude, the use of slogans and the provision of simplistic information (statements such as "zero risks") and not complete and messages presented in an ambiguous manner, may undermine the public's trust in the system - a situation that may have consequences for the public's cooperation in the future. Although the "Two Drops" campaign was indeed a success in terms of vaccination rates, the manner in which the messages are communicated may be a double-edged sword in the future.

For the full study


  1. age
    Did you make a pact with your son?

    Do you realize that you are a poor helpless person, due to your ignorance? When you drive the child in the car, you put him at risk, don't you? A billion times greater risk than that "medical procedure".. all 2 drops on the tongue...

    Again, if I'm wrong on some detail, please correct me.

  2. I myself was previously vaccinated against polio. My son was vaccinated with a drop of milk, so he is protected. Therefore, in practice my family was protected and not in any kind of danger. By the way, the Ministry of Health officials also acknowledged this. On the other hand, making a child go through a medical procedure that he did not need is an injustice, if not more, especially when that child cannot decide on his own fate. Risk exists in everything - even with the help of a piece of paper you can poke out an eye and I remember all too well what happened in the Altroxin affair where a reputable company decided not to tell about side effects until it was too late.

    When I talked about regulations, I did not mean to vaccinate those who cannot receive a vaccine, but those who can and choose not to receive it. It is clear to me as it is clear to everyone that when the majority is vaccinated even those who cannot be vaccinated will benefit from the general vaccination. And it is clear to me as it should be clear to everyone that a parent does not have the right to endanger his child because of those who choose not to vaccinate. I have no desire to protect them, certainly not at the cost of risking my child.

    Will any of you who are actual parents, and worked hard until they became a parent, dare to risk the life they managed to bring into the world because others choose to endanger the public?

  3. age
    The chances that the OPV vaccine was harmful to your son are so small as to be negligible. From what I know, in the whole world there is only one case of a person receiving OPV after IPV, and this case is also unverified.
    On the other hand, there are groups of people who are not vaccinated by choice. An example of this is people whose immune systems have been compromised by chemotherapy. Another example is the elderly.
    If what I said is true, do you still think you did the right thing?

  4. Pain for a two-year-old boy, after realizing that it was not a vaccine intended to protect my son, it was clear to me that he would not undergo any medical procedure that was not intended to benefit him.
    Since I work for and know the Ministry of Health, I understood very well that their goal is to protect populations that choose not to be vaccinated. Since my son is vaccinated against polio and receives all the vaccines intended to benefit him - he is safe and I am content with that. The problem was not in the way the message was delivered. My problem is with the message itself - the desire of politicians to make my son undergo a medical procedure that he does not need and that may endanger him - even if in negligible percentages - and this instead of acting against those who choose not to be vaccinated and this in ways that show governance, for example not letting him into kindergarten or school A child who has not been vaccinated as required or the parents know that all costs between treatment for the disease against which they chose not to be vaccinated will be applied to them.
    And by the way, I was not able to read the complete study because the link to it is not active. In addition, when talking about percentages - it is not clear to me what completes the published percentages to one hundred percent or in short, what are the full results of the study.

  5. David

    The situation is known but there is no solution. You have to make do with what you have. Your suggestions will not work.

  6. Wellness
    If you have a question, ask.
    If you think you know the answer, supply references, as readers don't know what is your level of knowledge in the subject

  7. safkan
    There is no risk in the OPV vaccine - there is one case in the world, and that too in doubt, that a person who received OPV and was vaccinated with IPV, contracted polio after the vaccination.

    The OPV vaccine is not required for those who have already been vaccinated - it is required to vaccinate those who have problems with the immune system, such as the elderly and cancer patients undergoing treatment, and also those idiots who have not been vaccinated at all, because of lies they have heard from all kinds of charlatans.

    In addition, the World Health Organization would have closed the National Health Service, if the Ministry of Health had not acted according to its instructions.

    Check what I said, and I await your apology.

  8. Miracles

    The fact that you are a stupid fool does not make others stupid.

    So your diplomas, if they are from a reputable academy at all, are not worth a penny. I judge people harshly, and you, according to all your chatter, do not understand much about science. Beyond very narrow areas you do not understand anything in depth.

    The fact that you shout regularly (not only at me) does not indicate your wisdom but only indicates that you have a mental problem (Torrent syndrome or something like that). Also, your yelling is an awkward attempt to impress your feigned erudition by raising your voice.

    The fact that you do not understand science beyond the level of the height of the grass - does not authorize you to attack others who understand much more than you.

    The fact that you speak confidently about things that you are not familiar with - makes an impression only on lay people.

    and of course Everything I said about the vaccines are true. Your ramblings are not interesting.

  9. Eran

    Passive polio vaccine (without live viruses) is completely sufficient in Israel.

    The active vaccine against polio (weakened viruses for the intestinal vaccine) was unnecessary. The information given to the public was misleading in order to encourage them to get vaccinated with a weakened virus, in practice only a _small_ part of the target audience (intestinal carriers) became vaccinated (in the intestines) and despite this, no harm occurred. Polio is a borderline disease and the majority of the population in Israel becomes vaccinated against it without having anything to do with the vaccine injections. Therefore, as mentioned, passive vaccination against polio is sufficient. Active vaccination against polio comes into consideration only after the number of _actual_ patients exceeds a certain number, let's say more than 10 actual patients (carriers are not considered patients).

    Overall, the public in Israel behaved more maturely than the Ministry of Health and showed opposition to the active vaccination. The result (as far as I understood) - the Ministry of Health will refrain from the second active vaccine and may completely cancel the active polio vaccine. (I say "probably" because the Ministry of Health is very modest (hiding) the current vaccination programs against polio, you have to dig to verify which polio vaccine exists today, active or passive).

    Measles vaccine is actually more useful than polio vaccine, because it is a much more common disease than polio in the absence of a vaccine. Therefore, the lack of vaccination against measles will inevitably cause a significant outbreak of the disease and also victims. You can ask if one measles vaccine is enough or two are necessary, and at what age to vaccinate.

  10. This is not really a fair study since only less than two decades ago the vaccination method was completely different and the number of vaccinations was different.
    Today, on average, a small child is given 30 different injections, all before his immune system is ready and all in the name of panic.

    There are diseases such as polio that only a psycho would not vaccinate a child against, with all the apparent risk that such a vaccine could have. But there are others such as measles where there is no problem for the child to be 3 years old before being vaccinated against it for the first time. Just like in the 80s and it worked great then.

  11. One problem is indeed the health system, and the one at the head of it. A second problem, more serious in my opinion, is parents who feed on the same discussions on the Internet and do not ask the one who understands medicine, their doctor.

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