Viewpoint: 'Vaccine hesitancy' is a government scapegoat

The term "vaccine hesitancy" has been used to describe the lack of vaccine uptake, but this term shifts too much responsibility onto individuals rather than government vaccination programs, argued a Feb. 22 op-ed in Nature. 

The authors, Katie Attwell, PhD; Adam Hannah, PhD; and Julie Leask, PhD, argue that the main responsibility and success of vaccination programs falls in the hands of the government, not on individual attitudes, given that governments have the power to make vaccines accessible. 

They argue that often issues of vaccine access are more important in holding back high vaccination rates than hesitancy. Vaccine access is also a problem that the government can step in and attempt to solve. For example, low vaccine uptake among Black Americans was often blamed on hesitancy, but social determinants of health and social conditions played a part in restricting access. Black Americans are less likely to own a computer than others, making booking an appointment and finding the closest pharmacy more difficult.

The authors argue that nations should invest in healthcare systems to ensure an equitable and accessible vaccine program, as well as pay close attention to the unique needs of marginalized groups. 

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