National Interest: “…Medical experts predict that “there almost certainly will not be enough vaccine for at least several years, even with the unprecedented effort to manufacture billions of doses. About 70 percent of the world’s population—or 5.6 billion people—will probably need to be inoculated to begin to establish herd immunity and slow [the coronavirus’s] spread.” For the vaccine to work, most people will have to agree to be vaccinated. Following the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, the United States eradicated polio. However, it took until 1979 for there to be zero new U.S.-originated cases of the disease. Around the world, it has taken extraordinary efforts, supported by the World Health Organization and non-governmental organizations, to convince people in developing nations of the safety of the vaccine and to persuade them to be vaccinated. Polio remains a threat in some places. Challenges to inoculating the public may well come from the objections driven by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. A popular belief, attributed to one, since-discredited, study published in 1997, is that vaccines cause autism. Other debunked beliefs are that vaccines undermine the body’s natural immunity and that they contain toxins. We have seen in recent years an increase in anti-vaccination movements. The number of Americans who believe in the importance of getting their children vaccinated has decreased from 94 percent in 2015 to 84 percent in December 2019, according to a Gallup poll. “Anti-vaxxers,” who choose not to have themselves and/or their children vaccinated against preventable viral infections such as measles, which was eradicated in the United States in 2000, caused multiple outbreaks in under-vaccinated neighborhoods…” Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of international affairs at The George Washington University. His latest book, Reclaiming Patriotism, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2019 and is available fordownload without charge, and Ruth B. Etzioni received her PhD in bio statistics from Carnegie Melon. She is a Full Member of the Member of the Division of Public Health Sciences Fred Hutch Cancer Center.
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