St Cross alumna and social sciences researcher at the Oxford Vaccine Group, Samantha Vanderslott (MSc Global Governance and Diplomacy, 2008) has co-authored a new study exploring how childhood vaccination policies vary across the world. The paper, written with Tatjana Marks, outlines a comprehensive database analysis of mandatory childhood vaccination policies in 149 countries across five WHO regions – Europe, The Americas, Western Pacific, African, and Eastern Mediterranean.
The research provides an overview of the state of mandatory childhood vaccination worldwide, presenting some general trends and issues. It also discusses why, how, and where mandatory vaccination is put in place. The paper distinguishes whether a country has a mandatory vaccination policy for one or more vaccines and the strictness of the mandate on a scale ranging across three levels: mandatory, mandatory for school entry, or recommended.
The study findings show that in the past an outbreak of a disease (such as measles) led to introduction of mandatory vaccines even in countries where previously all vaccinations were recommended. Moreover, it is not just a matter of whether to mandate a vaccine, but how this mandate will be enforced, whether people will comply, and the impact on state-citizen relations. Finally, the paper concludes that the mandatory vaccination must be considered with caution. Making a vaccine mandatory should not be the only policy tool but needs to be combined with strong access and availability of vaccines.
Samantha Vanderslott is currently researching parental attitudes and decisions on vaccination, particularly in relation to pro-vaccination behaviours and vaccine acceptance through the concept of ‘herd immunity’ and following of vaccine schedules.
Image: Samantha Vanderslott's personal blog
Graphic source: Vanderslott, S., and T. Marks (2021) Charting mandatory vaccination policies worldwide. Vaccine./Our world in data