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Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2017 Apr-Jun;53(2):157-162. doi: 10.4415/ANN_17_02_13.

Vaccine hesitancy: parental, professional and public responsibility.

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Istituto di Sanità Pubblica, Sezione di Igiene, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
President, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


The opposition to vaccinations is a well-known phenomenon that dates back to the Victorian age when it was self-limited by the awareness of the importance to be protected against fearsome infectious diseases. In the XX century, the mass use of vaccination has - instead - consented to eradicate or drastically reduce the burden of diseases such as smallpox and polio. These positive effects of the vaccination campaigns have blurred out, if not erased, the memory of the tragic consequences of the past's widespread diseases, leading people to underestimate the severity of the harm that vaccinations prevent. In recent years, a complex mixture of contextual factors have promoted an amplification of that paradoxical situation, leading experts to study causes and consequences of the so called "vaccine hesitancy". Several studies have shown the impact for children and for the community of the refusal or hesitation towards vaccinations from different points of view, including epidemiological, clinical, social and economic evaluation. This article provides an analysis of vaccine hesitancy from an ethical perspective: parental, professional and public responsibilities are analysed and described according to the "responsibility of the fathers towards the children", as articulated by Hans Jonas in 1979.

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