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Vaccine Program Recovery Difficult After Public Scares

Misinformation is threat to resilience of vaccination programs globally, authors say

TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Misinformation in the Danish media between 2013 and 2016 led to a 50.4 percent drop in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations among girls in Denmark, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in Vaccine.

Peter R. Hansen, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues assessed the decline of HPV vaccination in Denmark after negative media coverage (some negative coverage in 2013; extensive negative coverage in 2015) and assessed recovery during a national information campaign (2017 to 2019). Data from the Danish national health registry (2009 to 2019) were used to identify all girls born in Denmark from 1997 to 2006 when aged 12 to 15 years (328,779 girls).

The researchers found that in the period with some negative media coverage, HPV vaccine uptake fell to 83.6 percent of baseline uptake, while in the period with extensive negative media coverage, uptake fell to 49.6 percent of baseline uptake. HPV vaccine uptake recovered to its baseline level (109.2 percent) after the information campaign; this uptake was due in part to catch-up doses. Despite this recovery, it is estimated that 26,000 fewer girls initiated the vaccine than would have done so if uptake had not declined.

“The experience in Denmark offers one of the first opportunities to document how a nation grappled with negative media coverage of HPV vaccination and the steadying impact of action by national authorities,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Merck.

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