Experts Propose Strategy of Fighting Back Against Harmful Anti-Vaccine Narrative

Experts Propose Strategy of Fighting Back Against Harmful Anti-Vaccine Narrative

In order to combat anti-vaccine activism and attitudes in the United States and convince Americans of the lifesaving advantages of vaccinations against COVID-19 and other illnesses, a group of health specialists is urging public and private sector health officials as well as policymakers to take more action.

A group of specialists from the University of California, Riverside claim in an article published in the journal The Lancet that anti-vaccine activism was a factor in people’s hesitation about the COVID vaccine and that there are indications that this attitude is spreading to different vaccines as well.

Lead author of the study, Richard M. Carpiano, stated that “We need to always amplify the best science and also find the best ways of communicating so that people hear it through multiple channels instead of just one or two sources. It is a matter of life and death. People do not always see it that way. We have forgotten how many people died, have been sick or continue to get sick because of COVID as well as many other vaccine preventable diseases.”

The authors noted that in the past, anti-vaccination campaigning mostly targeted parents and school immunization regulations, whereas COVID gave activists access to a much wider and broader audience.

They were successful in leveraging opposition to public safety measures including social isolation closing of schools, and masks as the situation developed.

Activists joined right-wing organizations and certain pastors who support Christian nationalism in rejecting the immunizations and downplaying the seriousness of the virus.

Activists then started spreading suspicion among American citizens who were not familiar with the clinical trial system as soon as vaccination studies got underway.

They wrote that “Examples include promoting messaging that tied COVID-19 vaccines to past medical abuses such as the Tuskegee syphilis study when targeting Black communities, or intensifying existing mistrust in health-care and government institutions for Latino people, and fueling concerns of fertility-related COVID-19 vaccine side-effects that resonate with women.”

Three strategies are offered by the group to refute the misleading narrative. First, they suggest creating communities that can communicate the correct information about vaccinations to the public at the appropriate time and location in light of the fact that anti-vaccine activists are connected online.

They also propose receiving input from outside the typical public health agencies.

“Countering the array of expanded efforts by anti-vaccine activists and groups or individuals who influence or monetize disinformation efforts necessitates a wide breadth of expertise.”

Finally, they propose employing organized communities in order to counter anti-vaccine trends.

They concluded that “This action will include separating narratives about liberty from anti-vaccine attitudes and mitigating anti-vaccine activist harassment of public health communicators. Without concerted efforts to counter the anti-vaccine movement, the USA faces an ever-growing burden of morbidity and mortality from an increasingly undervaccinated, vaccine-hesitant society.”


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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