Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research explains public resistance to vaccination

09.01.2019

Same force that influences economics and physics complicates efforts to prevent disease

Why is it so challenging to increase the number of people who get vaccinated? How does popular resistance to vaccination remain strong even as preventable diseases make a comeback?


Social imitation dynamics of vaccination can exhibit hysteresis. This figure illustrates a hysteresis loop in relation to outbreaks of measles and other childhood diseases in Europe and North America.

Figure courtesy of Feng Fu and Xingru Chen

A new study from Dartmouth College shows that past problems with vaccines can cause a phenomenon known as hysteresis, creating a negative history that stiffens public resolve against vaccination.

The finding explains why it is so hard to increase uptake even when overwhelming evidence indicates that vaccines are safe and beneficial.

A hysteresis loop causes the impact of a force to be observed even after the force itself has been eliminated. It's why unemployment rates can sometimes remain high in a recovering economy.

It's why physical objects resist returning to their original state after being acted on by an outside force. And, according to the Dartmouth research, it's why the public resists vaccination campaigns for ailments like the common flu.

"Given all the benefits of vaccination, it's been a struggle to understand why vaccination rates can remain stubbornly low," said Feng Fu, an assistant professor of mathematics at Dartmouth College. "History matters, and we now know that hysteresis is part of the answer."

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first study to demonstrate that hysteresis can impact public health.

"Once people question the safety or effectiveness of a vaccine, it can be very difficult to get them to move beyond those negative associations. Hysteresis is a powerful force that is difficult to break at a societal level," said Fu, who led the research team.

Low vaccine compliance is a public health issue that can cause the loss of "herd immunity" and lead to the spread of infectious diseases.

In parts of Europe and North America, childhood diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis have returned as a result of insufficient vaccination coverage.

Previous studies have combined behavior models with epidemiology to understand the challenge of voluntary vaccination, but have been unable to completely explain the persistence of low vaccine compliance.

The Dartmouth research specifically studies how past problems associated with vaccinations can impact present and future vaccination decisions.

"This study shows why it is so hard to reverse low or declining vaccine levels," said Xingru Chen, a graduate student at Dartmouth and the first author of the research paper. "The sheer force of factual, logical arguments around public health issues is just not enough to overcome hysteresis and human behavior."

According to the research, the hysteresis loop can be caused by questions related to the risk and effectiveness of vaccines. Negative experiences or perceptions related to vaccination impact the trend of uptake over time - known to the researchers as a "vaccination trajectory" that gets stuck in the hysteresis loop.

Hysteresis prevents an increase in vaccination levels even after the negative objections have been cleared, making society increasingly vulnerable to disease outbreaks.

"When it comes to vaccination levels, the past predicts the future. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of people are going to needlessly suffer unless we find a way to break the negative impact of the hysteresis loop," said Fu.

The study refers to the example of whole-cell pertussis vaccine in England and Wales in the period from 1978 through 1992. It took that 15-year span for uptake of the "whooping cough" vaccine to recover from 30 percent to 91 percent. According to the research team, such a recovery should only take about a year under ideal circumstances.

The research also notes the slow increase in measles vaccination in the face of resurgent outbreaks. In some countries, like France, measles has become an endemic disease despite the availability of an effective vaccine.

According to the study: "The coverage of measles vaccination has only gradually climbed up, but still remains insufficient, for more than a decade following the infamous MMR vaccination and autism controversy."

"Vaccination levels in a population can drop quickly, but, because of hysteresis, the recovery in that same population can take many years," said Chen.

For the common flu, the study suggests that a vaccine would have to have an effectiveness of above 50 percent in order to achieve high levels of vaccination, a difficult level to reach because of the speed with which the illness mutates.

By identifying the hysteresis effect in vaccination, the research team hopes that public health officials can design campaigns that increase voluntary vaccination rates, particularly by promoting vaccination as an altruistic behavior that is desired by moral and social norms.

David Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.2406

Further reports about: Mumps Pertussis effectiveness of vaccines flu hysteresis measles vaccination vaccines

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study points to new drug target in fight against cancer
19.09.2019 | Rice University

nachricht Researchers develop tumour growth roadmap
19.09.2019 | Universität Leipzig

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 'Nanochains' could increase battery capacity, cut charging time

How long the battery of your phone or computer lasts depends on how many lithium ions can be stored in the battery's negative electrode material. If the battery runs out of these ions, it can't generate an electrical current to run a device and ultimately fails.

Materials with a higher lithium ion storage capacity are either too heavy or the wrong shape to replace graphite, the electrode material currently used in...

Im Focus: Stevens team closes in on 'holy grail' of room temperature quantum computing chips

Photons interact on chip-based system with unprecedented efficiency

To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On the trail of self-healing processes: Bayreuth biochemists reveal insights into extraordinary regenerative ability

23.09.2019 | Life Sciences

New method for the measurement of nano-structured light fields

23.09.2019 | Life Sciences

Clarification of a new synthesis mechanism of semiconductor atomic sheet

23.09.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>