Presentation Title

The Antigen of Truth: Inoculating Anti-Vaccine Proponents to Treat an Epidemic of Misinformation

Faculty Mentor

Virginia Shank, Kurt Meyer

Start Date

18-11-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

Location

9-277

Session

Bio Sciences 4

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

health_nutrition_clinical_science

Abstract

The anti-vaccine movement has experienced modern resurgences due to misinformation on the internet through social media, news platforms, and alternative-healthcare websites. In order to combat this dangerous movement, understanding how misinformation perpetuated through the unprecedented accessibility of the internet, and the culture around these groups, has caused the recent spread of vaccine-opposition is essential. As people increasingly use the internet as a source of health expertise, there has been dramatic growth in the visibility of anti-vaccine attitudes, resulting in rejection of healthcare advancements, decreased herd immunity, and outbreaks of preventable disease. By examining the history of vaccine opposition and the efficacy of attempts to counter it, and using Google Trends to explore current anti-vaccine sentiments on the internet, this presentation provides a comprehensive understanding of why recent efforts to change the minds of anti-vaxxers through education have failed. Analysis shows that as anti-vaccine beliefs permeate the internet and become introduced to social groups, local anti-vaccine cultures form. Consequently, geographic clusters of unvaccinated individuals arise, which results in deadly outbreaks of preventable disease. Misinformation and confirmation bias circulate within these clusters, which leads individuals to interpret attacks on the anti-vaccine movement as personal attacks on not only their individual freedoms and beliefs, but their very identity, thus rendering attempts to shift attitudes of anti-vaccine proponents through education ineffective. Increased understanding of the causes behind the anti-vaccine movement will pave the way for the formation of new, more effective solutions to end this damaging ideology, which threatens public health and safety worldwide.

Summary of research results to be presented

By examining current anti-vaccine sentiments on the internet through the use of Google trend data, social media analysis, and scrutiny of the reliability of information on anti-vaccine websites, this presentation will provide a conclusive understanding to key factors for recent resurgences of the anti-vaccine movement which will ensure that future solutions to counter this movement are appropriate and effective. Epidemiology research concludes that the percentage of immunized individuals to ensure herd immunity varies by disease, but typically falls between 80%-90%. Unfortunately, the popularization of the anti-vaccine movement has lead to several states reporting child immunization rates lower than 70%. These low rates of vaccination result in deadly outbreaks of preventable disease such as the 2015 Disneyland Measles outbreak, where one unvaccinated park-visitor caused a multistate Measles outbreak of over 150 people. These outbreaks will become increasingly prevalent if the anti-vaccine movement is allowed to grow. Google trend data on the popularity of anti-vaccine searches on the internet ties occurrences of flu pandemics to significant increase in anti-vaccine sentiments on the media, including a period of rapid growth during the October 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. These findings are echoed by evidence of increased prevalence of pseudoscientific anti-vaccine claims on social media during outbreaks of disease. These pseudoscientific claims are also prolific on anti-vaccine websites, which commonly present misinformation about vaccine safety, civil liberties, and alternative medicine treatments. Analysis of the varied internet platforms that the anti-vaccine movement uses to gain footing is essential in the understanding of this pertinent issue.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 18th, 9:45 AM Nov 18th, 10:00 AM

The Antigen of Truth: Inoculating Anti-Vaccine Proponents to Treat an Epidemic of Misinformation

9-277

The anti-vaccine movement has experienced modern resurgences due to misinformation on the internet through social media, news platforms, and alternative-healthcare websites. In order to combat this dangerous movement, understanding how misinformation perpetuated through the unprecedented accessibility of the internet, and the culture around these groups, has caused the recent spread of vaccine-opposition is essential. As people increasingly use the internet as a source of health expertise, there has been dramatic growth in the visibility of anti-vaccine attitudes, resulting in rejection of healthcare advancements, decreased herd immunity, and outbreaks of preventable disease. By examining the history of vaccine opposition and the efficacy of attempts to counter it, and using Google Trends to explore current anti-vaccine sentiments on the internet, this presentation provides a comprehensive understanding of why recent efforts to change the minds of anti-vaxxers through education have failed. Analysis shows that as anti-vaccine beliefs permeate the internet and become introduced to social groups, local anti-vaccine cultures form. Consequently, geographic clusters of unvaccinated individuals arise, which results in deadly outbreaks of preventable disease. Misinformation and confirmation bias circulate within these clusters, which leads individuals to interpret attacks on the anti-vaccine movement as personal attacks on not only their individual freedoms and beliefs, but their very identity, thus rendering attempts to shift attitudes of anti-vaccine proponents through education ineffective. Increased understanding of the causes behind the anti-vaccine movement will pave the way for the formation of new, more effective solutions to end this damaging ideology, which threatens public health and safety worldwide.