Katherine Wong/ OCSA 11th
Just recently, Samoa experienced a large measles outbreak-which, in large part, was caused by anti-vaccine beliefs. Over four thousand people have been affected by the outbreak, with at least seventy people already dead. Most of those affected are children under the age of five.
Most anti-vaccine ideas spread to places like Samoa through the form of social media. Facebook, a popular social media platform used worldwide, houses anti-vaccine propaganda that is likely to have served as a major cause for the Samoan measles outbreak.
The anti-vaccine “movement” has been around for decades, but recent developments have garnered attention (both positive and negative) to their beliefs. All around the world, educated individuals are turning against modern medicine and making rash opinions based on unsupported ideas, like how vaccines apparently cause autism. This spread of false information is a dangerous and pressing issue that threatens the safety and health of everyone. While Samoa has already taken action following their outbreak by arresting a vaccination critic and requiring unvaccinated families to hang red flags outside their house, much of this is occurring too late with many lives already lost.
The threat to human health still remains imminent and has brought up the question of social media’s role in this situation. Social media platforms such as Facebook have claimed to have been cutting down on anti-vaccine propaganda, but advertisements have slipped through their blockade and continued spreading false news among populations. This anti-vaccine indoctrination threatens to sway public opinion towards a side that is based on scams and fear, increasing the probability of dangerous outbreaks like what happened in Samoa.
This cannot occur again. Lives have been lost, and those who are spreading anti-vaccine beliefs must be held accountable and prevented.
As members of the general public, we can spread awareness among our community through initiating conversations, joining public health clubs, and even simply reading articles that cover recent news about this topic. In addition, we can discourage the engagement of anti-vaccine posts on social media platforms and prevent the further spread of misinformation.
Change begins now, and it’s important that we act immediately to prevent any more unnecessary deaths.
<Katherine Wong/ OCSA 11th