• FDA confident in the safety, effectiveness of MMR vaccine

    The FDA has joined other scientific and medical groups in an effort to combat the conspiracy-fueled campaign of disinformation and misrepresentation by anti-vaccine activists. “We cannot state strongly enough – the overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health,” said Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

  • 2019 a record year for measles infection since the disease was eradicated in 2000

    The number of measles cases confirmed in the United States since the first of the year grew by 90 in the last week, raising the total to 555 cases, meaning it’s likely 2019 will see the most measles cases in the United States since the disease was eradicated in 2000. Measles is highly contagious, and can be deadly. The World Health Organization (WHO) said 110,000 deaths were attributed to the virus in 2017. “The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85 percent,” the WHO said. Coverage needs to reach 95 percent to prevent outbreaks.

  • Online anti-vax efforts prove daunting public health challenge

    Earlier this week New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot blamed a small group of anti-vaccine advocates for their role in an ongoing measles outbreak among the city’s Orthodox Jewish population. In many Western countries, public health officials and scientists charge that an aggressive, conspiracy-fueled misinformation campaign by anti-vaxxers has caused the re-emergence of preventable diseases such as measles.

  • Anti-vaxxers are spreading a virus that just won’t die

    In 1995, Andrew Wakefield began researching a possible link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Sarah Baxter notes that he was a fraudster, and that he was struck off the medical register in Britain in 2010 but, after moving to the U.S., he has become something of a celebrity, and is supported in his bogus views by Donald Trump. In the past, some religious communities rejected vaccination, but now they have been joined the hippie-dippy boho middle class and the conspiracy-minded global far right. The result: a scary rise in dangerous infectious diseases which were on the verge of eradication.

  • Anti-vaxxers appear to be losing ground in the online vaccine debate

    As measles outbreaks spread across the U.S., our new look at how information about vaccine safety and reliability spreads online suggests that the tide may be turning against the anti-vaccination movement.

  • The high dollar cost of the anti-vaccine movement

    There conspiracy-fueled anti-vaccine movement has real costs: Aside from the hundreds of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, associated deaths, long-term health consequences, and strain such illnesses takes up on the healthcare and public health system – the anti-vaccine movement has additional consequences which are truly expensive.

  • NY County declares emergency over measles outbreak

    So far this year, more than 300 people have contracted measles in 15 states in the U.S. Almost half of those cases occurred in Rockland County, just north of New York City.

  • Italy imposes heavy fines on parents of unvaccinated schoolchildren

    Italian media reports that across Italy, parents are falsifying vaccine documents to prevent their children from being barred from attending school. These parents are responding to a new law, which imposes fines of thousands of euros for not vaccinating their children.

  • Explaining public resistance to vaccination

    Low vaccine compliance is a public health issue that can cause the loss of “herd immunity” and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. Low vaccine compliance is a public health issue that can cause the loss of “herd immunity” and lead to the spread of infectious diseases. In parts of Europe and North America, childhood diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis have returned as a result of insufficient vaccination coverage. Why is it so challenging to increase the number of people who get vaccinated? How does popular resistance to vaccination remain strong even as preventable diseases make a comeback?

  • “It's not all about autism”: Analyzing a Facebook-fueled anti-vaccination attack

    Social media has given those espousing anti-vaccination sentiments an effective medium to spread their message. However, an analysis of a viral Facebook campaign against a Pittsburgh pediatric practice reveals that the movement isn’t “all about autism.” Instead, new research finds that anti-vaccination arguments center on four distinct themes that can appeal to diverse audiences.

  • Russian trolls, bots spread false vaccine information on Twitter

    A study found that Russian trolls and bots have been spreading false information about vaccination, in support of the anti-vaccination movement. The false information was generated by propaganda and disinformation specialists at the Kremlin-affiliated, St. Petersburg-based IRA. The Kremlin employed IRA to conduct a broad social media disinformation campaign to sow discord and deepen divisions in the United States, and help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

  • Could a booster shot of truth help scientists fight the anti-vaccine crisis?

    The recent outbreak of measles cases in Clark County, Washington – which has been linked to a plummeting vaccination rate in this hotbed of anti-vaccination activism – makes clear that conspiracy theories, fear, and misinformation know no partisan bounds. One of the first lessons to be learned from this “metastasis” of science denial is how dangerous it is not to fight back. Science denial isn’t limited to fringe groups – if it isn’t fought in the trenches of corporate interest and ideology, it can spread not only to the general population, but to government too, with horrible policy consequences. What is the best way to fight back against such rank ignorance? What we need most to fight science denial is a better understanding of how science works, and we should point out that scientific claims are based on evidence. We should not pretend that vaccines are 100 percent safe. There have been isolated cases of negative reactions, sometimes even leading to death. These, however, represent such a small risk – as compared to the much larger one of dying from childhood diseases like measles or whooping cough – that unless a child is immuno-compromised, it doesn’t make sense to forego vaccines. Indeed, because there are immuno-suppressed children out there, one might say that it is the obligation of the rest of us whose children are not in such a risk group to make sure that our own children are vaccinated.

  • Rise of European populism linked to vaccine hesitancy

    There is a significant association between the rise of populism across Europe and the level of mistrust around vaccines, according to a new study. “It seems likely that scientific populism is driven by similar feelings to political populism, for example, a profound distrust of elites and experts by disenfranchised and marginalized parts of the population,” says the study’s lead author. “Even where programs objectively improve the health of targeted populations, they can be viewed with suspicion by communities that do not trust elites and experts.”

  • New layer of medical preparedness to combat emerging infectious disease

    Researchers supporting the PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats PREEMPT program will model viral evolution in animal populations, quantify the probability of human pathogen emergence, and pursue proof-of-concept interventions to prevent viral spread to humans.

  • Are Russian trolls saving measles from extinction?

    Scientific researchers say Russian social-media trolls who spread discord before the 2016 U.S. presidential election may also contributed to the 2018 outbreak of measles in Europe that killed 72 people and infected more than 82,000 — mostly in Eastern and Southeastern European countries known to have been targeted by Russia-based disinformation campaigns. Experts in the United States and Europe are now working on ways to gauge the impact that Russian troll and bot campaigns have had on the spread of the disease by distributing medical misinformation and raising public doubts about vaccinations.