How many times have you had a friend post an article on social media about vaccines (whether for or against them) and people went wild with the comments? It's a pretty common topic of conversation these days that everyone has very strong opinions about. As soon as the word "vaccine" is typed, you know that it will immediately be followed by a whole slew of information that follows.
You've probably also found yourself in a situation where you questioned the information being put out there by someone. This is so common that a new report has stated that half of all parents with small children have been exposed to misinformation about vaccines. That's a huge number.
The report was published by Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and lead by chief executive Shirley Cramer.
The main myth they found that is circling around social media about vaccinations is what the side effects actually are and fearing that something bad will happen.
Here's the thing: social media is obviously a place for people to share their thoughts and opinions, however, it's also a breeding ground for misinformation because any Tom, Dick, and Harry are able to share what they think to be correct. While it's not that big of a deal whenever you're sharing your opinion on something harmless like recommending a bottle that you loved, sharing misinformation about vaccines has really dangerous consequences.
It goes so much further than just "friendly" conversation though, as there are actually “Anti-vaxx” groups who target new parents to spread lies. They will say things such as “Parents, not only can any vaccine given at any age kill your child, but if this unthinkable tragedy does occur, doctors will dismiss it as ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ (Sids)," to get parents to join Facebook posts, accompanied by alarming pictures.
What else is a vulnerable new parent supposed to think?
This has gotten so out of control that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) needed to respond and ruled posts like this misleading as they prey on fear and distress versus facts. Facebook also shared a response that they are taking steps to make sure these types of posts are quickly demoted from people's news feeds.
Thankfully, the report also shared that only one in ten parents actually did believe what they were reading on social media. However, it's extremely important that the correct information is being spread.