Home / Health / The U.S. government is slow to respond as anti-Vaxxers spread lies on social media about coronavirus vaccines

The U.S. government is slow to respond as anti-Vaxxers spread lies on social media about coronavirus vaccines

“We’re back here,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. “We didn’t do a good job [coronavirus vaccine] Information out there. “

It’s about a lot. A CNN poll in May found that a third of Americans would not try to get vaccinated against coronavirus even if the vaccine is widely available and inexpensive.

“I think I underestimated the level of public opposition,” said Collins. “I didn’t expect it to be so widespread.”

A spokesman for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s drive to bring a coronavirus vaccine to market, said a public awareness campaign would “soon”

; focus on vaccine awareness.

“We see more hesitation in vaccines with the Covid vaccine than with other vaccines. We know that. That affects us of course,” said Michael Caputo, deputy secretary of the US Department of Health.

There isn’t much time left to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, and others believe a vaccine could hit the market in December or January.

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“We know it’s very important to get this conversation started early, especially for a new vaccine,” said Chelsea Clinton, Vaccine Advocate at the Clinton Foundation. “We saw how important this was many decades ago when the polio vaccine first hit the market in the mid-1950s. So we know what to do. We just don’t do it.”

Not a word from the CDC

Traditionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been the federal agency for developing vaccine education programs.

In June, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, a plan is in the works.

“We are currently developing a plan to continue building up efforts to restore vaccine confidence in this country, which is very important,” Redfield said at a Senate Health Committee hearing on Covid-19.

CNN asked a CDC spokeswoman what happened to the plan Redfield mentioned and what the CDC had done to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine. She did not answer.

CNN asked Clinton what work the CDC had been doing to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine.

Fauci 'happy' with registration for the first week of the Covid-19 vaccine study

“You don’t do a job,” she said. “I wish [this] work has been done outside of the disease control centers, but it just doesn’t happen. “

Collins also noted that the CDC was unusually inactive on that front.

“This is critical and I know [the CDC has] have tried to get the word out in their own way, but they haven’t been particularly successful, “said Collins.

In the past few months, Operation Warp Speed ​​has taken over some functions from CDC.

Operation Warp Speed ​​”is developing a robust public health information campaign” that has already begun with public health announcements requesting plasma donors, Caputo said, adding that “this campaign will soon focus on safety, effectiveness and security Reluctance to focus on vaccines will “.

He added that the program has worked with industry and community leaders, as well as non-governmental organizations, and will create public notices with health professionals and celebrities on various topics related to Covid-19.

However, the public notices dealing with the vaccine won’t be released until late November.

Caputo said in order to build trust, they need to know which vaccines will come out first and if some vaccines might work particularly well for a particular group, like the elderly. Six vaccine companies have received funding from Operation Warp Speed.

Private groups like Vaccinate Your Family and Voices for Vaccines have started advocacy for Covid-19 vaccines to help build vaccine trust.

The National Institutes of Health and the NIH-established COVID-19 Prevention Network have partnered with various groups to talk about the vaccine.

But Clinton said a bigger vaccine education effort should have been made months ago considering anti-Vaxxers flooded social media with scary lies about vaccines for Covid-19.

“There’s really nothing going on on this coordinated front in our country,” said Clinton.

Those lies include social media memes stating that the vaccine leaves an invisible digital, trackable tattoo. that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a vaccination leader, is actually Satan; and that the vaccine will disfigure your face terribly.

The power of the anti-vaccine movement

Anti-Vaxers are winning the war on social media.  What will the CDC do about it?

Clinton noted that the power of the anti-vaccine movement should not be underestimated. Last year’s measles outbreak, the largest in nearly 25 years, was largely driven by the anti-vaccine movement, which is very popular on social media.

“Unfortunately the Anti-Vax content is way more viral, way stickier than the pro-vaccine, pro-public-health, and pro-science content,” she said.

Collins said he thinks anti-vaccine efforts that made the measles outbreak possible last year were effective because the measles vaccine has been so successful over the decades that many people do not know how deadly the virus can be.

“People have stopped believing it could kill a child,” said Collins. “But I think I thought because Covid-19 kills people and thousands of them every day, it would be less of a temptation to say, ‘Oh, maybe we don’t need this for that.’ But I was obviously wrong. “

CNN’s Wesley Bruer and John Bonifield contributed to this story.

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