BRUSSELS, April 26 (Xinhua) -- A significant number of Europeans have incorrect knowledge about vaccines, a survey publicized on Friday showed, as the European Commission said it is time to speak out against disinformation.
48 percent Europeans believe - incorrectly - that vaccines can often produce severe side effects and 38 percent think vaccines can cause the diseases against which they protect, according to the first Eurobarometer on attitudes towards vaccination.
"This means our work to increase vaccine coverage and to fight against vaccine disinformation is far from finished," the Commission's Vice President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement titled"Vaccination: Time to speak out against disinformation!"
The statement did not mince words explaining that the vaccination works: vaccination is one of the most successful public health measures to date. Not only do vaccines prevent diseases and save lives, they also reduce healthcare costs. Over the last two centuries, it has been consistently proven that vaccines work.
"It is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion," it added.
Unfortunately, there is a global trend seen over the past few years that Western countries struggle with declining vaccination rates, thanks to disinformation in communities about vaccines, especially the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine. As a result, this year saw the greatest number of measles cases reported in the United States since the disease was declared eliminated from the country in 2000.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has named vaccine disinformation as one of the top 10 public health threats this year.
But there are also some good news from the Eurobarometer survey on attitudes towards vaccination: 85 percent of EU citizens believe vaccination is an effective way to prevent infectious diseases.
In addition, around half of EU citizens have been vaccinated in the last five years and a large majority (79 percent) consult and trust a healthcare professional to get information about vaccinations.
The European Commission and the WHO will be hosting a Global Vaccination Summit on September 12, 2019 in Brussels, according to the statement which ends with "one simple fact: Vaccines Work!"