Misinformation by Anti-Vaccination Groups Causing Fear, Suspicion
The ‘anti-vaxxers’ groups are sometimes as big as 150,000 and are thriving closed communities.
Negative messages about vaccines propagated on the social media is the main barrier to vaccinations, a report from the UK-based charity Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) had revealed earlier in February.
The report, titled "Moving the Needle", identified two in five (41 percent) parents, saying they are often or sometimes exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media. This increased to as many as one in two (50 percent) among parents with children under five years old.
Traditional media, on the other hand, continued to be influential, and was highlighted by healthcare professionals as impacting the public's views on vaccines.
Another report by The Guardian pointed out that Facebook has become the epicentre of a lot of this vaccination-hate. As doctors call for their ban, anti-vaccination groups continue to thrive on the social media platform.
Ill-Placed Fears of Side-Effects
The fear of side effects of vaccines was found to be the primary reason for choosing not to vaccinate, while lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine was the key reason for parents choosing not to vaccinate their children against flu, the report said.
Fear and misinformation about vaccines can cause significant damage to seemingly stable vaccination programmes. With the dawn of social media, information - and misinformation - about vaccines can spread further and faster than ever before and this may, unfortunately, be advantageous for anti-vaccination groups.Shirley Cramer, RSPH Chief Executive
The report also called for social media platforms and the press to do more to combat "fake news" as millions of lives have been saved through vaccination, and side effects are rare.
It suggested that efforts to limit health misinformation online and via social media should be increased, especially by social media platforms themselves.
The ‘anti-vaxxers’ groups are sometimes communities as big as 150,000. They are closed which means potential members can only be asked to be made part of them by the admin of the group.
Education on vaccines in schools should be increased and improved.
Access to vaccinations must be improved and it should be offered in a more diverse range of locations, including high street pop-ups, utilising the wider public health workforce.
The report is based on the findings of surveys of nearly 5,000 people across the UK on their awareness and attitudes towards vaccines, such as MMR, the flu jab and HPV.
They include 2,600 parents, 2,000 other adults and more than 200 healthcare professionals, such as nurses, pharmacists and general practitioners.
(With inputs from IANS.)
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