Secretary Azar Blames Social Media Misinformation for Under-Vaccinations

Social media fake news is causing vaccination rates to decline in the USA

social media art work with a hand over the persons face

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar blamed falling vaccination rates not just on vaccine misinformation, but also unwarranted fears. 

"Vaccines are safe, effective, and lifesaving," Secretary Azar said in an address to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 20, 2019. 

"But misunderstanding and misinformation are causing vaccination rates to decline, with tragic results." 

He said the source of widespread doubt about vaccine science was found in “social media conspiracy groups” that confuse well-meaning parents. 

HHS has ramped up education programs in an effort to dispel conspiracy theories about vaccinations among hesitant parents, he said. 

Established in 2010, the National Vaccine Plan (NVP) is the nation’s leading roadmap for a 21st-century vaccine and immunization enterprise. 

The NVP articulates a comprehensive strategy to enhance all aspects of vaccination, says the HHS.   

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Kyle E. Yasuda, MD, FAAP,  recently said in a press release, “Our worst fears are being realized as measles outbreaks spread across the country.” 

While Facebook, Google, and Pinterest have each indicated that they are taking steps to address the unique vulnerabilities in their respective platforms, the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) say more needs to be done to ensure parents are equipped with credible information, from verified sources, about vaccines. 

“We have found that continuing to talk with parents who are hesitant about vaccines is the best way to bring them closer to a decision to vaccinate their child.” 

“The same is true in the social media space,” wrote Dr. Yasuda, AAP President.