Childhood vaccines play key role in preventing a range of diseases and epidemics. However, still many patients choose to refuse or delay vaccination and they do so due to different reasons. Parents often consult the Internet in search of information on different vaccines and at times come across a range of controversial claims. According to a new study, as much as two-thirds of all the anti-vaccination websites are misleading people instead of helping them out.
A previously conducted comparison of anti-vaccine and pro-vaccine websites revealed that pro-vaccine sites tend to focus on vaccination-related practices endorsed by governments and different evidence-based scientific studies on vaccine.
On the contrary, anti-vaccination sites were found to have their focus on building communities of people who have been badly affected by vaccine related practices and/or vaccines. The primary aim of those websites appears to be challenging data presented by different government documents and scientific literature.
In spite of using edifying and misinformation-correcting facts, mainstream health communities are struggling to convince parents, who not showing interest in vaccinating their children, about the benefits of vaccination.
According to data presented by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the year 2014 saw the highest numbers of measles cases since 2000 i.e. when the health officials declared the country measles-free. Numbers show that most people developing the condition were unvaccinated.
The CDC said that measles might spread when the virus enters a community that includes groups of unvaccinated people. According to the health body, if less that 92% people in a community doesn’t get vaccinated against measles, the chances of epidemic in that community increase dramatically.
Meghan Moran, the lead author of this new study, and colleagues were looking to comprehend the strategies adopted by anti-vaccination advocates for creating such strong anti-vaccine attitudes. The team wants to use the insight for developing more effective strategies for vaccine promotion.
During the study, the research team under Moran investigated four primary search engines, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Bing and Google. The search terms they used include “vaccine danger”, “immunization dangers” and others found on Google Trends. They came across around 500 blogs, personal websites, health websites and Facebook pages and analyzed the content for specific beliefs regarding vaccine (this included misinformation on vaccines, its sources etc.) and persuasive strategies.