Public education and effective communication

The paradox of immunization success requires ongoing efforts to educate the public about once-common deadly infectious diseases that few people today have ever seen, the role of immunizations in preventing these diseases, and the need for continued vaccination so that these diseases do not become commonplace once again (Kane, 1998). The challenge for public health authorities and policy-makers today is to communicate information convincingly and accurately, not only about the risks and benefits of vaccines, but also about the risks of the diseases that they prevent. As long as the public hears more about adverse events associated with vaccines and perceived, unfounded fears of harms caused by vaccines than it does about the deadly toll of these infectious diseases and the remarkable achievements in immunization over the last 200 years, declines in vaccine coverage are likely to increase, and the risk for turning back the clock on the gains achieved by widespread immunization in controlling deadly infectious diseases will also increase (Kane, 1998; Wilson and Marcuse, 2001).

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