There has been a recent rise in measles outbreaks worldwide, despite it being an entirely preventable disease with an effective vaccination. Countries including the UK and Greece were recently stripped of their measles free status by the World Health Organisation for their failure to contain the outbreaks.

The growing suspicion around the safety of vaccines has led to a fall in the number of people being vaccinated, which allows the disease to spread much more rapidly. Several reasons are thought to be behind this, including government mistrust, misinformation spreading online and many parents now being too young to have experienced a previous measles outbreak and therefore do not appreciate the severity of measles.

A recent study surveyed people’s attitudes towards medical institutions, such as the Centre for Disease Control, and vaccinations. It was found that people sceptical of medical institutions were more likely to have favourable views on vaccination if they lived closer to a recent measles outbreak. People who were not sceptical of medical institutions had vaccination views independent of location.

The study results indicate that people’s decision to vaccinate themselves or their children depends on their proximity to a disease outbreak. It also highlights the public health importance of fostering trust towards healthcare institutions.