This is how social media giants are helping stop the spread of measles

social media pill

(Marc Schaefer, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Social media companies are responding to the World Health Organization’s call to help prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines, following a measles increase in almost every region in the world.

Pinterest has announced that for search terms such as “measles” and “vaccine safety”, it will only share information from public health organizations, such as the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Vaccine Safety Net, a global network of websites that provides reliable vaccine safety information.

The site now features content on the number of lives saved each year thanks to vaccines, and includes the message: “If you’re looking for medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider”.

“We’re taking this approach because we believe that showing vaccine misinformation alongside resources from public health experts isn’t responsible,” says Pinterest’s Public Policy and Social Impact Manager Ifeoma Ozoma.

Image: Statista

Stopping the spread

Nearly three times as many cases were reported from January to July of this year than in the same period in 2018, according to the WHO. Four European countries – Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and the UK – lost their measles-free status in 2018.

Vaccines, Health and healthcare, Gavi

What is the World Economic Forum doing about access to vaccines?

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all – wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an etimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, – Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi’s partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally – in our Impact Story.

Vaccine hesitancy – the refusal to take up widely available vaccines – has been reported in more than 90% of countries – driven in part by misinformation spread via social media.

Between 2010-2017, nearly 3 million US children did not have their first measles vaccine. The country recently logged 1,215 measles cases across 30 states, in the worst outbreak since 1992.

A plea from the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure social media users are only given access to “credible, science-based information” has led to other digital giants changing their recommendation algorithms and demonetizing “anti-vax” videos.

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