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What’s Really Behind Global Vaccine Hesitancy

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‘The U.S. should not blame South Africa—or any other nation—for vaccine hesitancy, or stop sending vaccines to places that need them. Vaccine access is crucial. But vaccine hesitancy is an urgent problem, and a global one. New variants can emerge wherever populations remain unvaccinated. (Indeed, it’s possible that Omicron emerged elsewhere and was merely detected in South Africa, which has an advanced genomic-sequencing operation.) “If we had had everybody immunized in the world who is over the age of 18 with at least one dose of COVID vaccine, Omicron might not have happened,” Noni MacDonald, a vaccinologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, told me. Some surveys suggest that vaccine hesitancy is actually higher in rich countries than in poor ones, so the virus is just as likely to evolve into some dreadful new form in an unvaccinated American’s body as in a Congolese or Russian person’s.

If policy makers want to limit the damage that Omicron and future variants do, they’ll have to better understand why people reject vaccines. Something as complex as vaccine hesitancy is bound to have many causes, but research suggests that one fundamental instinct drives it: A lack of trust. Getting people to overcome their hesitancy will require restoring their trust in science, their leaders, and, quite possibly, one another. The crisis of vaccine hesitancy and the crisis of cratering trust in institutions are one and the same….’

— via The Atlantic

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