Saturday October 19, 2019

Vaccine Doubts Spread Across Social Media Like Disease, Should be Taken Down: Vaccine Chief

"We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease," Berkley said. "This spreads at the speed of light, literally"

0
//
measles epidemic
FILE - A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S. VOA

Doubts about vaccines have spread across social media like a disease and false information that “kills people” should be taken down by the companies running digital platforms, the head of global vaccine alliance Gavi said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a U.S.-sponsored event on the sidelines of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said there was a strong scientific consensus about the safety of vaccines.

But social media algorithms favored sensational content over scientific facts, rapidly convincing people who had never seen family members die from preventable illness.

“We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease,” Berkley said. “This spreads at the speed of light, literally.”

vaccine
“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012. Pixabay

WHO says poor vaccination coverage is causing measles outbreaks globally, with numbers spiking in countries that were previously almost free of the disease, including the United States.

Misinformation about vaccines, which the WHO says save two million lives annually, was not a freedom of speech issue and social media firms need to take it offline, Berkley said. “I remind people that this kills people,” he said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said complacency, misunderstanding and misinformation were causing vaccination rates to decline globally, with tragic results.

“In my country, social media conspiracy groups confuse well-meaning parents so they hesitate to get the recommended vaccinations,” Azar said.

He rejected any criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump, who repeatedly and erroneously tweeted about links between vaccines and autism in the years before he became president.

“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012.

vaccine
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies. Pixabay

Azar said Trump was “extremely firm” in support of vaccination.

“If you had been paying attention in the last month, you would know that the President of the United States, President Trump, was very clear and emphatic: get your shots, get your kids vaccinated, vaccines are safe,” Azar said.

ALSO READ: WHO to Strengthen Strategies to Combat Ebola Epidemic in Congo

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies.

“You’ve got to get into the trenches … and begin to get engaged much more on a personal and emotional level, because people don’t understand statistics and data. If you do that. (VOA)

Next Story

Afghanistan Initiates Polio Drive, Targets 8.5mn Kids

The campaign is launched in most of the places in Afghanistan where limited children were reached earlier in the year

0
Polio
Afghan health authorities on launched sub-national immunization campaign to give polio immunity vaccination dose to 8.5 million children under five years old. Pixabay

Afghan health authorities on Monday launched an extended sub-national immunization campaign to give polio immunity vaccination dose to 8.5 million children under five years old.

“The five-day campaign targets over 8.5 million children under 5 years of age in 324 districts across the country. The campaign is launched in most of the places where limited children were reached earlier in the year,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry of Public Health as saying.

“We are concerned that following the long pause in polio vaccination in parts of the country, more children have become vulnerable to poliovirus, therefore it is of paramount importance that we vaccinate those who have been missing out,” it added.

The Ministry called on the parents to protect their children against polio by letting the vaccinators get in when they come knocking on the doors.

Polio
The five-day campaign in Afghanistan targets over 8.5 million children against Polio under 5 years of age in 324 districts across the country. Pixabay

The ongoing insurgency and conflicts have been hindering the efforts to curb the infectious disease in the mountainous country as 1.2 million children from inaccessible areas have missed previous drives.

READ MORE: PM Modi Stooped Down to Lift Environmental Awareness

There are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are still reported. (IANS)