As Measles Outbreaks Continue, Media Outlets Report On Developments, Role Of Vaccine Hesitancy

Associated Press/ABC News: 8 die of measles in Ukraine this year as outbreak worsens
“Eight people have died of measles in Ukraine since the start of the year, already half as many as died in the whole of 2018, authorities said on Wednesday. The Health Ministry said in a statement that two deaths from the extremely contagious viral disease have been recorded since Saturday. … The World Health Organization’s data show that Ukraine logged 53,000 confirmed measles cases last year, accounting for more than half of all cases in Europe. Skyrocketing measles rates in Ukraine are believed to be due to vaccine refusal as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government a few years ago. Ukraine’s efforts to battle the outbreak are also hampered by political infighting less than two months before the presidential election…” (2/13).

Washington Post: Anti-vaxxers are spreading conspiracy theories on Facebook, and the company is struggling to stop them
“As a disturbing number of measles outbreaks crop up across the United States, Facebook is facing challenges combating widespread misinformation about vaccinations on its platform, which has become a haven for the anti-vaccination movement. The World Health Organization recently named ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the biggest global health threats of 2019. But on Facebook, in public pages and private groups with tens of thousands of members, false information about vaccines — largely stemming from a debunked 1998 study that tied immunizations to autism — is rampant and tough to pin down. In the bubble of closed groups, users warn about alleged dangers of vaccinations, citing pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Facebook has publicly declared that fighting misinformation is one of its top priorities. But when it comes to policing misleading content about vaccinations, the site faces a thorny challenge. The bulk of anti-vaccination content doesn’t violate Facebook’s community guidelines for inciting ‘real-world harm,’ according to a spokesman, and the site’s algorithms often promote unscientific pages or posts about the issue. Parents are left to wade through the mire, and as the viral spread of fake news has shown, many users have trouble distinguishing between reliable sources and unreliable ones…” (Telford, 2/13).

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