England: social media spreads vaccine misinformation

08 March 2019

A report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) suggests that social media is stoking misplaced fears about vaccines, including concerns over their side effects.

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Moving the needle explores the attitudes to vaccination of nearly 5000 people across the UK, including 2600 parents.

It found that while nine out of 10 parents agreed vaccines are important for their children’s health, more than one in four believed – incorrectly – that ‘you can have too many vaccinations’, and two in five parents had been exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media.

The RSPH calls for social media platforms and the press to do more to combat the spread of misinformation.

‘If it impacts uptake of the vaccines, it could severely damage the public’s health,’ said Shirley Cramer, chief executive. ‘It would be unacceptable to allow vaccine-preventable diseases to make a comeback.’

Roughly one in 10 parents surveyed said they had chosen not to give their child the MMR jab, one in five parents chose not to give the flu vaccine to their child, and one in 14 refused an HPV jab for their teenage daughter.


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