Lawmakers met at the end of February to tackle the increasing public health threats when the cases of measles keep rising across the country.
The recent hearing, organized by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, present one of the key problems: halting the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories about rubella, mumps, and measles vaccine which have contributed to considerable hesitancy in many areas. Representative Diana DeGette from Colorado stopped the session at least two times when the audience, both against and for immunization, shouted down over vaccine safety.
Doctor. Anthony Fauci, the director of the Infectious Diseases and Allergies Institute, recognized that there has not been powerful countering about the anti-vaccine movement.
He said that: “Misinformation is a significant issue. The spread of these false statements can lead people to make worse decisions, although their well-meaning can be a considerable contributor to the issues we are discussing.”
At the beginning of this year, the Disease Control and Prevention Centers has reported nearly 160 measles cases in ten states – Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, New York, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, and Georgia. The most serious outbreak occurs in the Pacific Northwest where there are up to 65 cases, accounting for more than 40% of all cases in the United States. In January, the Clark County officials announced a public health emergency. Nearly all of these cases are from unvaccinated kids.
In 2000, the disease was announced eliminated in the US, which was a major victory for public health. Around 91% of kids under three years old are vaccinated for the condition across the country. But in a few areas, the suffering rate has been falling. In Clark Country of Washington, where there are up to 60 cases of outbreaks, around 76% of kids in the kindergarten are unvaccinated.
The director of the Respiratory Diseases and Immunization Center – Dr. Nancy – admitted that the pro-vaccine movements to prevent misinformation plans haven’t been effective enough, in spite of the agency’s efforts to offer the most “scientifically precise information to suppliers.”
The hearing is organized just as popular social media platforms, including Pinterest and YouTube, have announced their efforts to prevent anti-vaccine misinformation from spreading. Facing increasing pressure, Pinterest tried to block all searches about vaccinations to prevent the spread of potential misinformation, while it is figuring out a better solution. YouTube also made a change in the recommendation algorithm to stop suggesting any conspiracy video. What’s more, the site prevented anti-vaccine videos from presenting advertisements and earning money.