The US is facing health downfall as measles outbreak reached its peak due to disinformation and anti-vaccination groups. These groups are spreading rumors of the ill-effects of vaccines. The threat by this anti-vaccination campaign is so harmful that the World Health Organisation(WHO) has declared this as “Vaccine Hesitancy” threat, the greatest health crisis of 2019.
According to WHO, vaccine hesitancy is “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines.” Reasons can be different for vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is also termed as “immunization apathy.”
“Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence, ”WHO reports reads.
Such case has been recorded in the US recently where the measles outbreak has recorded 50 new cases and 11 suspected cases in Clark County, Washington. There are anti-vaccination online groups such as Informed Choice Washington which are spreading fake information against vaccination.
“In the 25 years that I’ve known about immunizations and the controversy over it, there are things on the web, and there are organizations that say that vaccinations cause autism and that’s why some parents are reluctant to have their children vaccinated,” said Eileen Quiring, Council Chair of Clark County.
This apathy towards vaccines is not an overnight process; it has been accumulated all these years and filtered through the decades to reach this point of crisis. In studies, researchers found that phenomena of vaccine hesitancy started before the 1990s. Now, emerging technologies and social media platform are giving way to political parties to play their dirty games and spreading disinformation.
Bots and Russian trolls spread disinformation about vaccines during last US elections which may be the reason for the recent measles outbreak in the US. They did it to divide people and to spread malicious information. Study found that several accounts which were spreading fake information about vaccines belonged to the same Russian Trolls. It further found that online bots and trolls were used to dis-morph the information.
These trolls posed the pros and cons of vaccines as a debate shattering the trust of common people on vaccines. Trolls claimed that vaccination can lead to infectious diseases.
In this new age of technology, people try to find their answers on the internet rather than approaching doctors. The worst part is that they don’t even make sure that the information they are reading does not have a proper source.