Anti-Vaccine Propaganda Spread Through Social Media Contributed To Samoa Measles Outbreak, Columnist Writes
Washington Post: Samoa has become a case study for ‘anti-vax’ success
Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist
“…[Anti-vaccination propaganda] has helped turn Samoa into a case study of ‘anti-vax’ success — and increased the demand for tiny coffins decorated with flowers and butterflies. … In Samoa, where Facebook is a main source of information, the vaccine coverage of children fell from 58 percent in 2017 to 31 percent in 2018. Local authorities have no doubt that social media played a role. … In any sane society, the prevention of deadly, highly infectious diseases is a nonnegotiable public commitment. Coercion must be set at whatever level is necessary to ensure herd immunity. In Samoa, vaccination is now mandatory. … [T]he United States would be a better carrier of a pro-science, pro-health, pro-vaccine message if some prominent Americans did not feed anti-vax conspiracy theories on social media. … Dr. Sheldon Yett, the UNICEF representative to the Pacific, has put the case bluntly: ‘People who are spreading lies and misinformation about vaccinations are killing children.’ Such lies are among the United States’ worst exports to the world” (12/9).