Misinformation about the flu vaccine is hogging the websites

A Spanish woman receives a flu vaccine as part of the campaign against the second wave of Corona (Getty)

The spread of false information threatens the efforts of health officials in the United States to urge the population to receive the flu vaccine, to relieve pressure during the winter of hospitals that are mainly busy fighting Corona (Covid-19).

And spread on Social Media Misleading information, especially one that indicates that it has been received Flu vaccine It increases the risk of infection with the new corona, or it may lead to a positive result with a Covid-19 test.

A misleading claim circulating on and Instagram indicates that receiving a flu vaccine increases the risk of catching COVID-19 by 36 percent. And another spread on Instagram indicates that the influenza vaccine produced by Sanofi, called “Fluzone”, is 2.4 times more deadly than Covid-19.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that one in three parents decided to forgo giving their children the flu vaccine this year, as parents attributed the cause to misleading information, including those indicating that it is ineffective.

“Primary care providers have a really important role to play in the current flu season,” said Sarah Clark, a specialist at Michigan Medical Center for Research and Child Health Assessment, who led the study, adding, “They need to deliver a clear and strong message to parents about the importance of the flu vaccine.” .

But with the number of daily cases of Covid-19 rising to record levels in several US states, misinformation is a barrier to vaccinating residents.

“There is a lot of misinformation related to Covid, and I think it also extends to influenza,” said Janine Gaydry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies health messages on social media.

Disinformation researcher and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, Amelia Jamieson, agrees with this view and says, “Influenza has become part of the narratives that we are seeing about the emerging corona virus.”

Vaccines falter in 2020

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that only 49.2 percent of people received the flu vaccine in the 2018-2019 season.

In addition to the misinformation, measures aimed at containing the outbreak of Covid-19 have reduced personal preventive visits to clinics, during which many receive the vaccine.

The flu vaccine doses that are usually provided by employers, churches and schools have also stopped. Millions of Americans remained without health insurance due to the increase in the number of unemployed due to the economic repercussions of the epidemic, which means that the states will have to bear the costs of vaccinations for more patients.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that one in three parents decided to forgo giving their children the flu vaccine this year.

While the effectiveness of a flu vaccine can fluctuate based on the question of whether the circulating flu strain matches that of the vaccine, the CDC said it avoids millions of infections each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children over the age of six months be vaccinated.

“We have not seen any link among children or adults between receiving the influenza vaccine and (increasing) the risk of the emerging corona virus,” said Danuta Skuronsky, an expert in influenza vaccinations at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control.

Social media response

While social media leaves the possibility of misinformation spreading, it is also moving to publish reliable advice about vaccines.

And Facebook announced this week that it would begin directing users in the United States to information about where they would have to go to get a flu vaccination, and pledged to reject ads that urge not to receive vaccinations.

Before the pandemic, Twitter and Pinterest had established policies to redirect searches using certain keyword-related vaccines to public health organizations.

But Adam Dunn, director of biomedical and digital health information systems at the University of Sydney, indicated that this is not enough.

He said the methods developed to encourage user engagement on social media “can be used in a more discreet manner to guide people to credible and evidence-based information.”

He also called for the creation of more “vaccine advocacy societies that are honest and compatible with a diversity of viewpoints around the world.”

As for the assistant professor at the Broadway College of Nursing, P. Richards, she said that “getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever this year,” warning that the most severe cases of Covid-19 and influenza require the same equipment to save the lives of the infected.

Professor: There is a lot of misinformation related to Covid and I think it also extends to influenza.

And she stressed that “receiving the influenza vaccine will not only provide personal health protection, but will also help reduce the burden of respiratory diseases on our already stressed health system.”

Richards encouraged people to take their time to verify the information was correct. “There are many myths associated with the flu vaccine that can be cleared up with a little reading,” she said.

(France Brush)

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