Tag: Facebook groups

Guess Who Thinks Vaccines Are Connected to Mass Shootings?

It’s hard to think that the modern anti-vaccine movement could sink any lower, after all, they have recently been called out for lying about vaccinating their kids, selling fake vaccine exemptions, bringing up the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and of course scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the middle of the largest measles outbreak in 25 years.

Guess Who Thinks Vaccines Are Connected to Mass Shootings?

Not surprisingly, they weren’t done…

Larry Cook and his followers at Stop Mandatory Vaccination think that vaccines are connected to mass shootings.

A recent discussion on an anti-vaccine Facebook group asking if there was a connection between vaccines and mass shootings got nearly 1000 comments.

What’s the overall consensus of the group?

Of course they do!

“NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. These mass shootings are far too common and impact every corner of our nation. Every time we experience a tragedy like this, people with mental illness are drawn into the conversation. The truth is that the vast majority of violence is not perpetrated by people with mental illness. Statements to the contrary only serve to perpetuate stigma and distract from the real issues.

NAMI sees gun violence as a national public health crisis that impacts everyone.”

NAMI Statement on Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio

Even Larry Cook, the groups founder, has his own secret theory about how vaccines are associated with mass shootings. My guess is that his conspiracy theory involves nanobots…

There is only one real question we should have about all of this…

Do you want tetanus? Because this is how you get tetanus?
Do you want tetanus? Because this is how you get tetanus?

Why hasn’t his Stop Mandatory Vaccination group been removed from Facebook already?

More On the Worst of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Does the MMR Vaccine Cause More Seizures Than Measles?

Why do some parents think that the MMR vaccine causes more seizures than measles?

That's a lot of misinformation about measles in one post...
That’s a lot of misinformation about measles in one post…

Because that’s the latest propaganda that they are seeing in anti-vaccine groups on Facebook

Does the MMR Vaccine Cause More Seizures Than Measles?

The MMR vaccine doesn’t cause seizures in 1 in 640 children…

Posts like this about seizures and the MMR vaccine are why folks are reporting anti-vaccine Facebook groups for Fake News?
Posts like this about seizures and the MMR vaccine are why folks are reporting anti-vaccine Facebook groups for Fake News?

The MMR vaccine doesn’t even cause seizures!

“The MMR vaccine has been associated with a very small risk of febrile seizure as a side effect. Two recent studies indicate that for every 10,000 children who get the MMR and varicella vaccines for their first vaccinations when they are 12–23 months old, about 4 will have a febrile seizure during the 5–12 days following vaccination.”

Understanding the Risk of Febrile Seizures After the First Vaccination at Ages 12–47 Months

It can cause febrile seizures, but even then, it is only at about a rate of 1 in 2500 children after the first dose (0.04%).

Is that “five times the rate from the actual measles infection?”

As I’m sure you are guessing, the answer is obviously no.

Overall, seizures occur in about 0.6% to 0.7% of measles cases!

In addition, actual measles infections can cause non-febrile seizures, which are much more serious than febrile seizures.

Also, measles can cause encephalitis, a life-threatening complication that is often accompanied by seizures.

This is in contrast to simple febrile seizures, which again, are typically considered to be harmless.

More On Seizures from MMR Vs Measles

Where Are All of the Vaccine Advocates?

With more outbreaks and increased talk of vaccine exemptions, one thing often gets lost.

Most people vaccinate and protect their kids because they understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

Where Are All of the Vaccine Advocates?

Unfortunately, unlike the highly vocal minority of folks who are against vaccines, we rarely hear from vaccine advocates.

There are a lot of them out there though.

And we are finally starting to hear more about them!

“One woman took four of her kids for the M.M.R. that week.”

Amid a Measles Outbreak, an Ultra-Orthodox Nurse Fights Vaccination Fears in Her Community

Like the story of a nurse in Brooklyn who is educating vaccine-hesitant parents in the middle of a measles outbreak.

And how vaccine-hesitant parents in Oregon are attending vaccine workshops to learn about vaccines from medical professionals.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In exit surveys, the vast majority of people who attend our workshops say they’ve decided to vaccinate their children as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

How do you get anti-vaxxers to vaccinate their kids? Talk to them — for hours.

Had you heard their stories yet?

How about the story about the mom who started the group South Carolina Parents for Vaccines?

“Nelson tries to counter bad information online with facts. But she also understands the value of in-person dialogue. She organized a class at a public library and advertised the event on mom forums.”

A Parent-To-Parent Campaign To Get Vaccine Rates Up

Did you know that a mom in Colorado, who started the group Community Immunity, put up a billboard to help raise immunization rates in her community?

Or that a group of parents formed Vaccinate California and helped support the passage of SB 277 and improved vaccination rates in California?

Did you know that there are similar immunization advocacy groups in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington?

Other communities have Immunization Coalitions and Facebook groups to help answer questions and educate parents about vaccines.

Are you ready to join these vaccine advocates?

More on All of the Vaccine Advocates

Vaccines and Social Media

Believe it or not, social media isn’t all bad, not even when it comes to talking about vaccines.

Of course, social media does amplify the bad players and does seem to help scare many parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

But the anti-vaccine movement pre-dates social media. Social media simply helps a minority of folks who don’t trust vaccines become even more vocal.

Vaccines and Social Media

So that we are on the same page, do you know what folks are talking about when they mention social media?

Social media is the interactive parts of the Internet, so places like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat, Pinterest, and YouTube, etc.

What are you going to find if you go on social media and want to talk about vaccines?

It depends.

“The semantic network of positive vaccine sentiment demonstrated greater cohesiveness in discourse compared to the larger, less-connected network of negative vaccine sentiment.”

Kang et al on Semantic Network Analysis of Vaccine Sentiment in Online Social Media

It depends on who your friends are, what groups you are in, and who you follow.

“Measures of information exposure derived from Twitter explained differences in coverage that were not explained by socioeconomic factors. Vaccine coverage was lower in states where safety concerns, misinformation, and conspiracies made up higher proportions of exposures, suggesting that negative representations of vaccines in the media may reflect or influence vaccine acceptance.”

Dunn et al on Mapping information exposure on social media to explain differences in HPV vaccine coverage in the United States.

And unfortunately, that likely influences whether or not your kids are going to be vaccinated and protected.

Social media can be a strong tool to combat vaccine hesitancy too though and can help educate folks that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

“Given the ‘viral’ rates of anti-vaccination campaign dispersion through these same media, public health departments working in tandem with community groups, clinicians, hospitals and federal officials can leverage strong coalitions to prevent and treat infectious disease in their communities.”

Warren et al on Measles, social media and surveillance in Baltimore City

It is especially important that local and state health departments learn to use social media during outbreaks to educate the public on the importance of getting vaccinated and protected and combat propaganda and new conspiracy theories that sometimes arise when they don’t put out enough information about an outbreak.

“Our results indicate that users of Twitter (OR4.41, 95%CI: 1.43-13.60) and Facebook (OR 1.66, 95%CI: 1.01-2.72) as sources of health information were more likely to be vaccinated in comparison to users who do not use Twitter or Facebook as a source of health information.”

Ahmed et al on Social media use and influenza vaccine uptake among White and African American adults.

More than a few studies have shown that social media interventions improve vaccine acceptance.

Posting a #flushotselfie on social media can help others get vaccinated and protected too.
Posting a #flushotselfie on social media can help others get vaccinated and protected too.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that it is the folks who are against vaccines that are more likely to talk to others about vaccines on social media.

“To summarize the results, mothers who generally support childhood vaccinations are less likely to engage in communicative action about the issue, including information seeking, attending, forefending, permitting, forwarding, and sharing.”

McKeever et al on Silent Majority: Childhood Vaccinations and Antecedents to Communicative Action

So what should we do?

Instead of worrying about getting Larry Cook and a few other anti-vaccine heroes off social media, let’s get more vaccine advocates on social media!

“By targeting those who are in support of childhood vaccinations with simple, fact-based information that is easy to share online, media and health organizations could create a contagion effect on social media, which could help change perceptions, attitudes, and possibly even vaccine-related behaviors, and might have implications for years to come.”

McKeever et al on Silent Majority: Childhood Vaccinations and Antecedents to Communicative Action

And not just during outbreaks of measles!

More on Vaccines and Social Media