Vaccine Misinformation and Role of the Internet in Promotion of Anti-Vaccine Content

Vaccine Misinformation and Role of the Internet in Promotion of Anti-Vaccine Content.

“I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe.” – Jenny McCarthy

Vaccination is a Social Problem

After talking to one of my dearest friends, I came up with the idea for the article about vaccine misinformation. The friend of mine has children, and he is very preoccupied about the entire process of vaccination. We had a very long conversation during which we discussed the pros and cons of immunization. You see, I have never thought that such a simple medical procedure could have had a significant impact on public health. And I also never heard about the term such as “vaccine misinformation.” And I obviously did not know that the spread of anti-vaccine content in social media could be useful for somebody and it was an enormous social problem.

The topic was new to me. So I decided to investigate and immerse myself into the research. I kept in mind the main points of our discussion and wanted to get to the bottom of the issue. The primary concern of my friend was related to the health of his children. He was terrified by death rates among children associated with vaccination. These rates made him believe that once his kids receive a shot, there is a possibility that they would die. Or if they don’t die, they may develop some mental diseases, like autism, with time.

Vaccine Misinformation and Role of the Internet in Promotion of Anti-Vaccine Content.
Children are the most valuable part of life of any person.

I never insisted on proving him wrong. Children are the most valuable part of his life, and it would be wrong from my side to tell what was better for them. However, I wanted to be objective and asked him to come back to our discussion in a couple of days. In this way, I would have time to analyze the information provided by him and compare it with the information on the Internet. Of course, I needed to check only credible sources to extract the most reliable data.

The Paradigm of Anti-Vaccine Content

At the very moment when I clicked the button search in my browser, thousands of results popped up. There were sites of a different kind: scholarly articles, governmental guidelines, websites of healthcare institutions, newspapers, blogs, etc. And in this entire pile of informational trash, I managed to find some reasonable sources. I discovered that some individuals are interested in producing anti-vaccine content. And this surprised me a lot.

Many authors are emphasizing the importance of vaccination nowadays. They provide scholarly evidence on the fact that immunization cannot be associated with autism. They also encourage parents to immunize their children to prevent outbreaks of measles, influenza, and other serious diseases.

On the other hand, there are plenty of authors who work hard on crafting anti-vaccine content. And to my surprise, most of these authors are also scholars and seem to provide credible information with scientific evidence. According to J.B. Handley from the Children’s Health Defense website, who seems to succeed with the promotion of the vaccine misinformation, the rapid decline in mortality rates among children since the beginning of the 20th century is not due to vaccination. He argues that the decline is due to the increased quality of life, better nutrition, sanitation. He also points out that modern children are overwhelmed by the number of shots they must receive, and this contributes to higher mortality rates.

Moreover, in many countries, the quality of vaccines is extremely low. And that was also one of the concerns of my friend. So I continued to dig deeper. I wanted to understand the correlation of quality of vaccines with danger to health. I discovered that there are specialized organizations in each country which, in a lab setting, check the quality of each new vaccine coming to the market. Therefore, one may assume (including my friend) that countries with corrupt governments and institutions are more likely to increase mortality rates in the vaccinated population and put in danger public health. This is due to the low-quality product, which is not appropriately checked by those institutions.

“health officials and educational campaigns often fall short because they craft messages based on what they want to promote, without addressing existing perceptions.”

Heidi J. Larson

The quote taken from another article confirms that often politicians can take the side of either those advocating for anti-vaccine content or against them. That would depend on the benefits they may receive from either of the sides and fat money bonus. Moreover, in this way, they can gain the trust of particular groups of voters.

Role of Internet in the spread of Vaccine Misinformation

At this point of my research, I realized another thing. After the analysis of found articles, I came to the conclusion that the role of the Internet was even more crucial in the dissemination of vaccine misinformation than political forces.

My friend found all the information on the Internet. For this very reason, he was trying to explain to me the harmful effect of immunization not only on children but public health in general.

I found out that particular individuals use social media to impose their stance on vaccination for financial gain only. They just want to sell their books or services, and they definitely don’t care about the facts and statistics.

Some people create fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to target specific hashtags in order to dominate messaging and have bigger public attention. In this way, some organizations or political groups can influence public opinion and start conflicts in society. This was the reason why my friend and I began to argue on the topic. I was trying to prove to him that vaccination was good, and he tried to change my mind by letting me see the “real truth.”

The role of the Internet, and especially social media, has become decisive in shaping the thoughts of citizens who have access to the wireless network on a daily basis. People use the Internet to search for truth. But the problem is that every person has its own truth and know what is best for him or her, or their children. And the scary thing is that those selling vaccines, designing anti-vaccine content, spreading vaccine misinformation, or telling about the advantages of vaccination know the core of each soul perfectly.

The Threat to Public Health

However, despite the division in opinions, the fact that unvaccinated individuals are at a higher risk of becoming sick with a severe disease remains evident. This can cause a massive outbreak and damage public health significantly.

I was thinking a lot about what to write in the conclusion paragraph of the article. At first, I wanted to encourage you to ignore “fake” information about vaccination. Then, I wanted to encourage you not to vaccinate your children because it was too dangerous.

Now I think that I have no right to give any advice. I don’t have my own children and don’t know how I would react to the suggestion of the practitioner about the necessary immunization.

I remember when I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet, and my mother would never ignore suggestions of healthcare professionals. I was vaccinated multiple times since I was born. And I don’t even recall the names of all diseases injected in me. Maybe it has something to do with the immune system. I will never know. Anyhow, I did not develop autism. And my mom never listened to promoters of vaccine misinformation. I am still alive and capable of writing quality content for you, my dear reader.

Check other articles about the influence of social media or the power of money on my website.

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One Response

  1. Exacte…rien n’est parfait mais là politique de vaccination à permis d’éradiquer de nombreuse maladies dans les pays où cela a été mis en place.

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