“The parallel contagion”
Parents “are asking if they (the vaccines) are really necessary or if we can administer them later,” says Jason Terk, a Texas pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Anti-vaccine social media messages are amplified by conservative political figures as well as overseas campaigns, whose misinformation about vaccines predates the pandemic.
In the United States, the percentage of children in kindergarten who received the recommended vaccines fell by one point. “I call it parallel contagion,” said Jason Terk. “This appears to be driven by vaccine hesitancy and growing distrust of vaccines and institutions. »
Rates in adults and adolescents have also fallen for vaccines that protect against diseases such as influenza, hepatitis, measles and tetanus, according to health consultancy Avalere.
This led to around 37 million missed vaccination doses from January 2020 to July 2021 for adults and children aged seven and over, the firm found.
Social media helped create a coalition of anti-vaccines, libertarians and conservative politicians. This has been amplified by disinformation actors from Russia and elsewhere, according to David Broniatowski, a professor at George Washington University.
“People have been against vaccines since vaccines have been around, […] and this is largely due to the ability to organize on social networks across borders,” said the man who studies vaccine misinformation.
“One of the biggest changes we’ve seen is that vaccines have gone from a health issue to a civil and political rights issue,” he added.
Conspiracy theories have surged during the pandemic, according to a 2021 YouGov poll, which found that 28% of Americans and a significant number of people in other countries say the truth about the harmful effects of vaccines is “deliberately hidden “.
23 million unvaccinated children
Research from the Center for European Policy Analysis showed that China and Russia had promoted disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine, in part to show that Western governments were incompetent and untrustworthy.