The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has put pressure on social media platforms to address misinformation around vaccinations.
Responding to the latest statistics from the European Regional Verification Commission (RVC) for Measles and Rubella Elimination, Professor Martin Marshall, Vice-Chair of the RCGP said: “Everybody has a part to play if we are to successfully combat anti-vaxxer propaganda, not least the technology companies who must take responsibility and tackle confusion around the vaccination information being shared on their platforms.”
The RVC reported that the number of countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region having achieved or sustained measles elimination has declined. For the first time since the verification process began in the region in 2012, four countries, including the UK, lost their measles elimination status.
“It is disheartening to see these findings by the RVC at a time when we, and other countries across Europe, were on the way towards completely eradicating measles,” Prof Marshall said.
“While take-up of the MMR vaccination across the UK are still high, it is not high enough, and we have actually seen a small decline in recent years. It is clear that we are still suffering from entirely debunked claims around MMR that were perpetuated in the nineties and are now resurgent on social media and other online platforms."
He said it is encouraging that the WHO has increased its focus on measles elimination and upgraded action to address the challenges which have allowed the virus to persist in countries including the UK.
“This, alongside a commitment by our government to tackle a wave of dangerous anti-vax messages being shared online, particularly via social media, will hopefully go a long way in helping the country get back on track and regain our measles-free status,” he commented.