The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has published a report revealing the extent to which social media propagates misinformation about vaccinations, and that the perceived risks of side effects are the key concern among those who choose not to vaccinate. While all vaccines have potential side effects, in reality they only affect some people – and are typically mild, short-lived, and far outweighed by the benefits of immunisation.
The Moving the Needle report explores vaccinations in the UK from childhood to older age, investigating the role of, and barriers to, vaccination throughout life. While the UK maintains world-leading levels of vaccine coverage – and this should be celebrated – the report reveals troubling findings about the extent to which public concern over side effects of vaccination continues to be a barrier to uptake. ‘Fake news’ on social media may be influential in spreading these concerns. However, attitudes to vaccines in general were largely positive, with 91% of parents in agreement that vaccines are important for their children’s health.