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14th November 2022
Vaccine confidence has reduced compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the findings of a recent, repeated public survey by researchers from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Portsmouth, UK.
The World Health Organisation describes immunisation as a global health and development success story. In 2020, the development of a vaccine against COVID-19 occurred very rapidly yet previously, the fastest vaccine development from viral sampling to approval had been four years, for mumps in the 1960s. Patient’s reluctance to receive vaccination, i.e., vaccine hesitancy is influenced by several factors, with a 2021 narrative review finding that COVID-19 vaccine acceptance ranged from 77.6% in the general population to 86.1% among students. A further factor affecting vaccine hesitancy is what might be termed ‘vaccine confidence’ and which has been largely driven by the rapidity of vaccine development and subsequent uncertainties over safety.
In November/December 2019 when the first cases of infection were being reported in China, the UK researchers undertook a patient survey and which was repeated in January/February 2022. In light of the pandemic, the most recent iteration of the survey was modified to include two questions: one on the number of vaccines individuals had received and the second, enquiring about an individual’s confidence in vaccines (whether it had increased/stayed the same/decreased) since the pandemic. For the survey, the researched calculated a vaccine confidence score (VCS) which was compared between the two surveys.
Vaccine confidence score change over time
The original 2019 survey included 739 participants (19.6% male) and of whom, 45.5% were aged 18 – 24 and only 4.2% aged 60 years and over. For the 2022 survey, a total of 270 respondents (27.8% male) were included but this time, the majority (68.8%) were in the 18 to 24 age range and only 3.4% were aged 60 years and older.
The median VCS in 2019 was 22 and significantly reduced to 20 in the follow-up survey (p = 0.001) with lower values seen across all age groups, between the sexes and based on graduate status.
In contrast however, the 2022 survey observed a significant association between the number of COVID-19 vaccines received and vaccine confidence score, which became higher as the number of doses received increased.
Finally, in the 2022 survey, 23.8% of respondents stated that their confidence in vaccines had decreased compared to 21.6% who stated that confidence had increased, whereas it remained unchanged at 54.6%.
The authors concluded that despite the success of the COVID-19 vaccination program, vaccine confidence had significantly declined since the onset of the pandemic.
Siani A et al. Is vaccine confidence an unexpected victim of the COVID-19 pandemic? Vaccine 2022
14th September 2022
Sun awareness messages do not appear to be registering with patients and could potentially increase their risk of developing skin cancer according to the findings of a survey by La Roche-Posay and IPSOS and discussed at the 31st EADV Congress.
The latest data suggests that 1.71% of the adult European general population reported having skin cancer, meaning some 7,304,000 individuals are estimated to have the disease. Now in data from a survey of 17,000 people from 17 countries, including 6,000 people from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Russia and from North and South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia, researchers have highlighted that sun awareness messaging does not appear to be acted upon by a large number of people.
The results clearly demonstrated that there is a perpetuation of several ‘myths’. For example, 73% of European said that a tan was healthy although among non-Europeans, this figure dropped to 59%. The majority of Europeans (80%) also believed that tans are attractive though again, this perception was less common (67%) among non-Europeans. Perhaps of greater concern was how although 92% of Europeans were aware of the skin ageing risks posed by the sun, 84% admitted that they did not protect themselves all year round.
Other misconceptions which highlighted either a poor understanding or deliberately ignoring sun awareness messaging, include how only 56% of Europeans knew that sun protection was useful when the weather was overcast. In fact, nearly a quarter (24%) thought it was safe to go outside without sun protection when they were already tanned. Additionally, only 1 in 10 (10%) of Europeans said they routinely or often used all forms of sun protection, such as applying sunscreen, staying in the shade, wearing a hat and protective clothing all year round, compared to 14% of those from outside of Europe.
Another worrisome finding was that while sun awareness of the dangers of the sun were higher in at-risk groups (i.e., those with a history of skin cancer, pre-cancerous lesions, photo dermatosis, or those taking photosensitising or immunosuppressing drugs), 59% still reported that they could not imagine coming back from a holiday without a tan.
Commenting on these findings, lead researcher Professor Thierry Passeron said “this research shows just how entrenched the “healthy” suntan myth is – even in those who have already suffered sun damage or developed skin cancer.” He added how ‘we must drive awareness of the damage to skin cells caused by exposure to the sun, which can lead to photoaging and skin cancer. This is particularly important in Europe where sun protection appears most inadequate compared to other countries.’