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‘Fake News’ Fuels Dangerous Mistrust Of Vaccines, Could Enable Outbreaks

Wired U.K.: Fake news and distrust of science could lead to global epidemics
Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Peter Piot, director of LSHTM

“Vaccines are one of the most important scientific inventions of all time, preventing millions of cases of disease every year and helping to consign once-deadly outbreaks to history. Yet these vital public-health tools are under threat from growing public mistrust in immunization and the rise of so-called ‘fake news’ drowning out expert voices. This ‘anti-vax’ sentiment and pushback against scientific evidence threatens public health around the world, from measles outbreaks in the U.S. and across Europe, prompting stricter vaccination laws, to persisting polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan. If this trend continues, 2018 could see a devastating resurgence of deadly diseases previously on the brink of eradication. … Rumor outbreaks and their contagion not only put stresses on immunization programs, they are ubiquitous across the health field. … In 2018, when we face the next major infectious disease outbreak, it will be a test of how well we use — or abuse — the technologies and knowledge we’ve gained since [the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which caused an estimated 50 million deaths]” (1/9).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.