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June 2019

Public Health England hits back at fake vaccine news

To mark European Immunization Week in May, Public Health England chief executive, Duncan Selbie urged everyone working in healthcare to talk ‘confidently about the value of vaccines’.

Research from PHE shows that health professionals remain the most trusted source of advice on immunisation (93% of parents agreed), while social media and the Internet ranked as the least trusted sources of information.

Although only 9% of parents have seen, read or heard about something that would make them doubt having their child immunised – down from a third (33%) in 2002 – anti-vaxx propaganda has been blamed for falling vaccination rates, especially in the US.

‘In a world where misinformation is so easily spread online we must all speak confidently about the value of vaccines and leave the public in no doubt that they are safe and save lives. It’s testament to our hard-working doctors and nurses that families trust them to provide accurate facts about the effectiveness of vaccines,’ Mr Selbie said.

‘We know that inaccurate claims about safety and effectiveness can lead to doubts about vaccines – putting people at risk of serious illness. It’s vital that all websites and social media platforms ensure accurate coverage of public health issues like vaccination. We have seen some steps forward with main platforms such as Twitter and Instagram banning anti-vaxx hashtags and or redirecting the traffic to trusted sites such as NHS.UK. But there is still work to be done.’

In the latest issue of Vaccine News, PHE says: ‘We cannot be complacent as even small groups of children missing out or delaying their vaccines leaves them and other vulnerable to serious or even fatal infections.’