Misinformation associated with the antivaccination movement has been a driving force contributing to the increase in vaccine preventable diseases, especially amidst the global measles outbreak.
Misinformation associated with the antivaccination movement has been a driving force contributing to the increase in vaccine preventable diseases, especially the global measles outbreak. By August 29, 2019, there were 1234 measles cases confirmed across 31 states for this year.1 With flu season just around the corner, it is also important that patients have accurate information to increase influenza vaccination rates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a statement emphasizing the importance of disseminating accurate vaccine information.2 Vaccine misinformation is considered a major risk to public health, threatening to reverse the sound scientific research on the importance of immunizations. Additionally, the WHO statement discussed the efforts of platforms like Facebook and Instagram that are trying to combat misinformation by directing social media users to the organization’s accurate and reputable vaccine information, available in several languages. Facebook and WHO have been collaborating to ensure that individuals have accurate information at their fingertips to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, hepatitis, polio, cholera, yellow fever, and influenza.2,3
“Major digital organizations have a responsibility to their users—to ensure that they can access facts about vaccines and health. It would be great to see social and search platforms come together to leverage their combined reach,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in the statement.2
Other social media platforms, such as Pinterest, Twitter, Mailchimp, Amazon, and YouTube, have also created measures to combat vaccine misinformation, which has also been endorsed by the American Medical Association.4
The WHO statement highlights the importance of the government and health sector taking steps to instill trust in vaccines and educating parents about the importance of immunizations and alleviating their concerns.2 Pharmacists can play an important role in educating and administering vaccines to the community. As one of the most accessible health care professionals, pharmacists can help to debunk vaccine misinformation seen on social media and direct patients to reputable resources such as WHO and CDC.