Vaccine resistance is a major health threat

VaccineVaccine.Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix

Vaccine resistance one of world’s greatest health threats

Vaccine resistance is one of the world’s ten largest health threats in 2019 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It worries UNICEF’s Secretary General, Camilla Viken.

Although WHO vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths each year, millions of children die from diseases that could have been avoided if they were vaccinated.

While UNICEF is working to ensure that all the world’s children are vaccinated, the WHO has seen a negative trend where more and more resistance to vaccines is seen from a philosophical basis. In light of the alarming developments, the organization has placed vaccine resistance on the list of what they believe to be the top ten threats to global health in 2019.


‘’This is very serious’’ said Secretary General, Camilla Viken of UNICEF Norway to NTB news.

She pointed out that vaccines are a very inexpensive and effective measure to prevent lethal diseases and disabilities, and that vaccines have been a major contributor to preventing child mortality for years.

‘’For us it is very desperate to see that parents are unable to vaccinate their children in countries where this is readily available. In Norway, the parents’ uncertainty and fear of vaccines should not trump the children’s right to health care. UNICEF believes that preventing children from being vaccinated is a violation of children’s rights,’’ said Viken.


Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have the right to live and develop, and UNICEF believes that vaccination is central to fulfilling this right.

‘’We know that vaccines save millions of lives every year and that another 1.5 million deaths can be avoided if the global coverage of vaccinations is improved. Vaccination is central to fulfilling children’s rights, primarily because children have the right to health care, but also because vaccination of children is the most valuable and effectivehealth care available’’ said the Secretary General.

Norwegian municipalities

She also pointed out that one violates the rights of othersif one party is not allowed to be vaccinated. In particular, those who are too small to receive a vaccine, or those who have diseases that cannot be vaccinated, are susceptible to infection.

For example, childhood measles require that 95% of the population have taken a vaccine, so-called flock immunity, in order to protect the small proportion who cannot, on a medical basis, take the vaccine.

Norway has a good coverage ratio of 99% nationally, but Viken is concerned that some municipalities in Norway are below the 95% coverage, including Nesodden in Akershus.

The WHO recently published a report showing that the number of children dying of measles has decreased by 84% since the year 2000 due to vaccination. In the same report, the organization expressed strong concern that in 2017, however, a 30% increase in the number of measles cases globally was seen compared with the previous year.

One of the reasons was that several countries that were close to eliminating the disease had seen a resurgence in the number of cases, and the Secretary-General pointed out that it is therefore important to continue to maintain coverage.

Clear voice

‘’What we know and what the WHO writes is that you are talking about proven vaccines with minimal side effects. The side effects are small compared to the possible consequences if you are not vaccinated’’ said Viken, who is concerned about the development of vaccine resistance.

She is clear that vaccination is a lifesaver, which prevents children from getting serious diseases and disabilities.

Other voices have stated that a compromise, in whichthe measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are given separately, with a period between each vaccination,might be a solution, as the main resistance stems fromthe perceived possibility of a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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