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Vaccine attacks lead to a response from doctors and researchers

About an hour ago

Todd Wolynn posted a YouTube video on his Kids Plus Pediatrics Facebook page announcing the HPV vaccine as a cancer prevention tool, he had no idea he was opening the floodgates of an anti-anti world Vaccine Internet Warriors.

Wolynn, a pediatrician and chief practice physician with offices in Cranberry, Squirrel Hill and the Mon Valley, simply said it was a great way to reach families who bring more than 20,000 children to his three children's offices each year , There the millennials are looking for information, he said.

The video released on September 15, 2017 worked well.

"Families started calling and asking about the vaccine," Wolynn said.

Then the attack began.

Over a period of eight days, the video became viral as a group of well-organized anti-vaccine activists from 36 states and eight countries began flooding the grounds with comments that challenged the effectiveness and safety of the security forces vaccine , They reported negative reviews on Yelp and Google's group, which employs 20 physicians. Suddenly, Kids Plus, which had consistently scored four-star ratings, saw a fraction of a star.

Wolynn and Kids Plus Communications Manager, Chad Hermann, immediately launched a counteroffensive, searching for their opponents and demanding Yelp and Google scrub the fraudulent reviews.

"It was eight days in 1

8 hours," said Hermann. "I've read each of the 10,000 comments."

"People have gathered in our defense. It became a cause, Célèbre, "said Hermann. "People started watching, praising and defending themselves against the attackers. During these eight days, we have gained 1,000 followers on our Facebook page. People from all over the world joined us.

Deeper Digging

In the 18 months since their founding, they joined forces with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research for Media, Technology and Health to randomly sample their attackers, tweeted the original video repeatedly and put together a toolbox for other health care providers who had the potential to crack down on a disinformation campaign.

So far, more than 99,000 views have been added to the video. Wolynn and Hermann spoke at conferences across the country to educate health care providers about tackling false information that could endanger children's lives.

"Providers are reluctant to defend themselves and are afraid that if they do so they will become targets. But we have to, "Wolynn said. "We focus on keeping children healthy and preventing disease whenever possible. In the age of social media disinformation, evidence-based recommendations from a trusted healthcare provider are more important than ever.

Although vaccines have virtually eradicated many childhood illnesses, the aversion to vaccination against children with outbreaks of measles and mumps is mounting, and childhood illnesses thought to have been eradicated have affected many. And when the World Health Organization ranked vaccination against the top 10 global health threats in 2019, public health experts called on Facebook to censor anti-vaccine campaigns that use the platform to spread false information.

Researchers at Pitt along with Wolynn and Hermann first dived deep into the public profiles of those who had launched the attack on the Pediatrics group.

Their research, published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Vaccine, suggested ways in which healthcare providers should counter vaccine resistance in parents.

The approximately seven-month study examined a random sample of 197 people posting attacks and examined their public profile – who their friends were, how they communicated and interacted with them, their interests and their policies. The researchers found that some were firmly anchored in President Trump's corner, while others were enthusiastic followers of Bernie Sanders. Although her reasons for sending resistance to government mandates to religious beliefs and suspicions of big pharma varied, Hermann said the only constant was her firm belief that she was right.

The study was authored by Beth Hoffman, a graduate student researcher at the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health. Brian Primack, Director of the Pitt Center for Media, Technology and Health Research. They said they had received valuable information.

They learned that most commentators were mothers. The sample included four different beliefs:

• those who emphasized the suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal freedom;

• Those who focused on natural and alternative remedies;

• The vaccines felt immoral; and

• Those who proposed government conspiracies in the vaccine community, including a small subset of placards that fought the poliovirus, never existed.

"Vaccines have become victims of their own success," said Hoffman.

] Handling specific concerns might help change some opinions.

"We want to understand vaccine-delaying parents to give doctors the opportunity to communicate with them optimally and respectfully about the importance of immunization," Primack said.


Erdley is a writer of the Tribune Review. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, [email protected] or via Twitter .