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Viral Immunol. 2005;18(2):307-15.

Public fear of vaccination: separating fact from fiction.

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  • 1Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, Oregon, USA.


During the last two centuries, the world has seen a substantial increase in the number and availability of vaccines for the prevention of infectious disease. Smallpox vaccine remains the most celebrated vaccine-related achievement in human history, but worldwide reductions in many other diseases including measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, and whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) also illustrate the power of vaccination in controlling outbreaks of contagious diseases. Ironically, as advances in vaccination successfully limit disease outbreaks, the impact that these infectious agents once had on society becomes marginalized. Public confidence in vaccination may erode because of real or perceived risks associated with immunization, and this in turn may lead to lower vaccination coverage and loss of herd immunity. Here, we will discuss some of the elements associated with public perceptions and fear of vaccination and place these into the context of how deadly several vaccine-preventable childhood diseases can be if vaccination coverage is insufficient.

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