Scepticism about vaccinating children has sharply increased in recent years in line with votes for populist movements in some European countries, a study has shown.
The study, published in the European Journal of Public Health, demonstrates the underlying link between anti-establishment policies and doubts over vaccines efficiency.
Dr Jonathan Kennedy, lecturer from the University of Queen Mary and author of the survey, wrote that vaccine hesitancy and political populism were driven by similar dynamics: a profound distrust in elites and experts.
“It is necessary for public health scholars and actors to work to build trust with parents that are reluctant to vaccinate their children,” according to the study.
Last year, according to the figures revealed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), measles killed 72 children and adults in Europe. The number of people infected with the virus was the highest of the decade.
The WHO estimates that between two to three million people lives could be saved if people are vaccinated.
The study urges populist parties to use their speeches to encourage families to vaccinate babies and children as soon as possible.
Why are they against vaccines?
Populist movements, across the world, have generally jumped on the anti-vaccine campaign to denounce their negative consequences.
In France, Marine Le Pen, President of the Front National, has voiced her concern over potential long-term consequences she says children could face after several vaccinations and blames pharmaceutical firms for trying to make a profit.
In Italy, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and its far-right ally, The League, both campaigned against vaccinations, arguing that they were unsafe. The movement also proposed to ban some vaccines, deemed linked to other lethal diseases.
In Poland, a small group of populist politicians named Kukiz’15 have demanded an end to mandatory vaccinations. They have also argued that doctors collaborated with pharmaceutical companies to conceal the side-effects of vaccines.