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If you had the chance to prevent a deadly disease, you’d do it wouldn’t you? Find out why some people don’t agree.

Polio and measles have been generally not been seen in most European countries because they are preventable by easy to access vaccines. However, UNICEF’s Tracking Anti-Vaccination Study in Europe shows that sentiment against providing vaccines to young children has been steadily rising through social media.

At the onset of a mild symptom (that is quite possibly just a slight cough) you may go on a Google search spree and eventually come out with the ridiculous answer that you have an incurable disease. In a similar way, social media is contributing to providing parents with uncorroborated explanations that veer away from what specialists are saying but hook them in with emotional appeal. They only want what’s best for their children. The study states 78% of people trust social media advice versus only 14% who trust advertisements. It is hard to say why these numbers are so prevalent in Eastern Europe as opposed to other parts of the world. The Russians focus on religious beliefs, the Poles on side-effects and the Romanians on chemicals as reasons why they don’t want their kids vaccinated. The belief that vaccines will cause side effects, administer toxins and chemicals to their children, and even cause disabilities is a wide spread belief that scientists are striving to reform by studying the data that is circulated about vaccines on social media networks.

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Image Courtesy of Flickr User: Noodles and Beef

¬†Campaigns to provide the truth about the safety of vaccines are being boosted in order to be heard in places where negative media controls the majority of user opinion. We all know that feelings when we open up a tab, search for something like a pair of shoes, then open up a new tab for our email or our daily browse and find an ad about that same pair of shoes. It bothers us that our searches follow us and the ads target us when we didn’t give them permission to. Similarly, those who are monitoring media discussions about vaccines must be weary of crossing the line and getting too deep into private information being exchanged over sensitive topics like diseases and vaccination. In order to correct the flawed beliefs about vaccines, what else can these groups really do?

Recently I took a Flu shot at NYU and was a little surprised by the reactions I got. A few of my friends asked me why I was getting a Flu shot. I thought the answer was obvious and replied “Why wouldn’t I get one?” It seems that more and more people are averse to getting vaccines even though in my mind prevention is the best cure. People are entitled to their beliefs, but it becomes dangerous when these beliefs endanger their kids and put others in danger of contracting diseases as well.

 

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user: NIAID

Additional Content: UNICEF study

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