A new alliance aimed at improving vaccination rates and reducing vaccine hesitancy has been launched by health minister Simon Harris. The Vaccine Alliance, which hopes to encourage greater uptake of childhood vaccines, will be comprised of healthcare professionals, policy makers, patient advocates, students and people from groups most affected by vaccine hesitancy.
Launching the initiative, Harris challenged social media platforms to decide “which side they are on” in the vaccine debate. He said they should consider closing accounts and web pages that spread false information about the so-called ‘dangers’ of vaccinations.
“These platforms can be a powerful tool for good, or they can be a vehicle for falsehoods and lies, and they need to decide what side they want to be on,” he said.
There were roughly 1,000 additional cases of mumps this year compared to last, and more than 50 cases of measles. “It shows the need for this alliance to push back against vaccine hesitancy,” said Harris.
On the positive side, a concerted public campaign based on evidence-based information has pushed HPV vaccine rates up from 51% to 70% in a short period of time.
Fórsa’s head of communications Bernard Harbor welcomed the move as an important public health initiative. “The establishment of the alliance will help boost the uptake of childhood vaccination, an essential public health measure that has been undermined by reckless misinformation in recent times,” he said.