Vaccination hesitation is hurting the fight against Covid in the poorest countries – .

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Vaccination hesitation is hurting the fight against Covid in the poorest countries – .


Reluctance to immunize has long hampered global immunization campaigns, which health experts say indicates some of the drivers predate the pandemic.

In poor rural areas, health resources are often scarce. Doctors in the capital or abroad often supervise the vaccinations. But stories of neglect and exploitation leave communities wary of strangers with mysterious blows.

The first modern global campaign, launched in 1959 against smallpox, caused deep skepticism in parts of Africa and Asia, where it was seen as a continuation of the medical abuse of the colonial era. Some WHO officials have used physical force to immunize people, reinforcing mistrust. The campaign lasted 28 years.

The polio eradication effort, which finally intensified in poor countries in the 1980s and is still ongoing, has met similar resistance. A study published in the scientific journal Nature found vaccine avoidance to be highest among poor or marginalized groups, who believed health officials, and particularly Western governments, would never help them willingly.

In Nigeria in the early 2000s, amid rising religious tensions, unfounded rumors circulated that foreign health workers were using polio vaccines as a blanket to sterilize the country’s Muslim population. Boycotts and local bans have led to a resurgence of polio, with cases spreading to 15 more countries, as far as Southeast Asia.

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