Vaccine hesitancy - a serious threat to the eradication of COVID-19.
Vaccine hesitancy – a serious threat to the eradication of COVID-19.
Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services. This is a complex issue and varies from place to place and on the vaccines as well. It has been there since the vaccination started but with the advent of social media this has been increasing like wildfire and at present, with COVID-19 vaccination in the starting phase it has become a major issue.
The influence of social media and its misutilization and its effect can be seen in this example – a Twitter post with a clip of an anti-vaccination rally in London was liked more than 71,000 times and retweeted more than 20,000 times.
“There is a microchip in Pfizer vaccine “ the misinformation campaign was taking rounds on social media. Google and YouTube outage which happened on the morning of Monday, Dec. 14 was caused by microchips in the new Pfizer vaccine using up internet bandwidth, said multiple Twitter posts and Whatsapp posts.
There was another viral post on Facebook saying that the Pfizer vaccine can make women infertile finally that post was removed by Facebook, FDA had to publish their data that 23 women had become pregnant during the vaccine trial 12 women who had received the vaccine and became pregnant after vaccination and 11 were pregnant in the placebo group.
The first controversy circulated in social media claimed Bill Gates owned a patent for the coronavirus and would benefit financially from the vaccine.
The news of death following vaccination in Norway and other countries has been circulated out of context.
Vaccine hesitancy is now growing at an alarming rate. The present-day digital ecosystem is mainly responsible. Measles that was eliminated around the world, has been surging again in many countries -- rising by 30% worldwide -- as more parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
Vaccine hesitancy has become an urgent problem and the World Health Organization named it one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019.
The problem in the present scenario has become serious because reliable information sources were outnumbered by social media fake news.
Some social media companies -- like Facebook and Twitter -- have recently started to more aggressively police the content. They have been taking down contents that are not true. This week, Twitter announced it would remove "the most harmful misleading information," and will soon label tweets that "contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines."
But on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, it’s hard to catch everything.
Governments all over the world have spent a huge amount in procuring vaccines and setting up plans to vaccinated the citizens but unfortunately, they did not spend on a good public information campaign regarding the facts about COVID-19 vaccination.
If a significant percentage of people do not opt for vaccination then all the efforts put into vaccine development, procurement and distribution may go waste.
Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, CCT, ASTS Fellow.