Health: Social Media and the Anti-Vaxx Cause

The Story:

There have been anti-vaccination activists long before there was such a virus as Covid-19. The anti-vaxx cause makes a variety of accusations against various childhood shots, notably including the charge, prominent since the 1990s, that the standard MMR vaccone is the cause of autism. But the Covid-19 pandemic, and the “Warp Speed” program to develop vaccines as a key response to that pandemic in the US, has generated new allies for that movement. Social media has offered the gangplanks on which the new allies have come on board.

Significance:

A recent study published in BMJ Global Health, a peer reviewed journal on public health issues, maintains that the level of organizing activity on the large platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, is a very effective predictor of the rise of “vaccine hesitancy” on a country-by-country basis. This study used data from 137 countries.

The authors of the study recommend “coordinated action” for “removing vaccination content from social media platforms.”

In Pill Form:

In the US, one of the most prominent anti-vaxx influencers has been Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of former US Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy. RFJ Jr.’s Instagram account was permanently deleted on February 11, precisely because Instagram took exception to what they saw as his disinformation about vaccines in general and the Covid vaccines in particular.

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