Friday October 18, 2019

Measles haunts the unvaccinated: Number of infected reaches 114 in the U.S.

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Vaccination in the US

The U.S. is the only western country to have reported high number of cases of Measles

by Smita Anand

As it seems to be the beginning of a major measles outbreak, the toll of infected children is climbing up. Since a large part of the population in the U.S. shrugged off vaccination as a significant preventive measure against fatal diseases, the likelihood of an epidemic cannot be denied. So far, most of the cases of infections are linked with the unvaccinated children and as the percentage of overall vaccination decreases further the risks would be widespread.

Vaccination in the US

Immunization against many diseases is what the world needs and vaccination is one of the vital methodologies toward achieving this. The whole idea of getting vaccinated filled the people with some dread at first during the 1950s, which stabilized later over the time with positive results and drastic fall in fatal diseases observed globally. But as it seems the fear bounced back again haunting the people in the U.S. with random negative theories connected to vaccination.

A collision between politics and medicine has stirred the anti-vaccination movement in the recent years where personal belief has triumphed over science. People argue that they should be given a choice to be vaccinated or else they would stay away from it. As fingers were pointed without any scientific and logical basis, it raised many concerns and the trust in the vaccinations faded away substantially.

With recent reports of measles breakdown in Disneyland and more than 114 affected with the contagious disease, the skepticism over vaccination seems to be starting to wane off. The people who kept themselves away from vaccination, now feel a growing compulsion to go for it.

The anti-vaccination phase drew in a lot of mistrust and created a huge shield of misinformation delivered to people through means of irrational propaganda. During this phase people believed nothing but linking of vaccine to autism and other long-term behavioral diseases, turning a small worry into a bigger concern and cause due to some maleficent reports published in a medical journal based out the UK.

Though a lot of doubts are being raised towards these time-proven preventive medicines and their manufacturers, the question is how could be the other means to prevent diseases then? The answer has many varied theories and explanations but so far the vaccines seem to be the only effective measure.

The only country that now has measles outbreak in the Western Hemisphere is the U.S.; this is not a blunt statement but a truth as quoted by the National Geographic News.

The current public health crisis that the U.S. is going through is the result of its own ignorance and making vaccines look like a medication of mutation. The result: sick people with whooping cough and fever, and tensed family and health department. The dreaded, contagious Measles is back again to haunt.

Why wait for an outbreak and search for a remedy when it is already there to prevent it beforehand. The dilemma about vaccines is to overturn the previous negative ideologies. Waiting for epidemics like Measles and Whooping Cough to return and remind the people of the importance of vaccines would be a damaging and life-threatening risk.

Last, but not the least, the debates about vaccinations are not questions raised against science but delivered information. The pharmaceutical companies need to be transparent; the government needs to be transparent, and they both need to encourage the efforts of science to safeguard the people against deadly diseases sooner than later.

Image Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Pinterest to Combat Misinformation about Vaccines by Showing Only Information from Health Organizations

Pinterest previously tried blocking all searches for vaccines, with mixed results

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Pinterest, Misinformation. Vaccines
Pinterest's logo. VOA

Pinterest said it would try to combat misinformation about vaccines by showing only information from health organizations when people search.

Social media sites have been trying to combat the spread of misinformation about vaccines. Pinterest previously tried blocking all searches for vaccines, with mixed results.

Now searches for “measles,” “vaccine safety” and related terms will bring up results from such groups as the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the WHO-established Vaccine Safety Net.

Pinterest won’t show ads or other users’ posts, as they may contain misinformation.

Pinterest, Misinformation. Vaccines
Pinterest said it would try to combat misinformation about vaccines by showing only information from health organizations when people search. Pixabay

“We’re taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn’t responsible,” Pinterest said Wednesday in a blog post.

Though anti-vaccine sentiments have been around for as long as vaccines have existed, health experts worry that anti-vaccine propaganda can spread more quickly on social media. The misinformation includes soundly debunked notions that vaccines cause autism or that mercury preservatives and other substances in them can harm people.

Experts say the spread of such information can push parents who are worried about vaccines toward refusing to inoculate their children, leading to a comeback of various diseases.

Spike in measles cases

Also Read- WHO Warns of Serious Consequences of Measles Infections Globally

Measles outbreaks have spiked in the U.S. this year to their highest number in more than 25 years.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed people “listening to that superstitious mumbo jumbo on the internet” for a rising incidence of measles in that country. The government plans to call a summit of social media companies to discuss what more they can do to fight online misinformation, though details are still being worked out.

Facebook said in March that it would no longer recommend groups and pages that spread hoaxes about vaccines and that it would reject ads that do this. But anti-vax information still slips through.

Pinterest, Misinformation. Vaccines
Social media sites have been trying to combat the spread of misinformation about vaccines. Pixabay

The WHO praised Pinterest’s move and encouraged other social media companies to follow.

Also Read- India’s Move to Ban e-cigarettes Flawed, Say Cancer Experts

“Misinformation about vaccination has spread far and fast on social media platforms in many different countries,” the statement said. “We see this as a critical issue and one that needs our collective effort to protect people’s health and lives.” (VOA)