11 October 2021, by Noel Davy
Each year, nearly 1.5 million children die due to infectious diseases that are vaccine preventable. One of the main reasons leading to this detrimental phenomenon is the dissemination of anti-vaccine ideolog on digital social networks. Ultimately, many parents have less confidence in vaccines or are opposed to the idea of having their children vaccinated.
While overwhelming scientific evidence points to vaccinations as essential for preventing many potentially deadly infections in children, the rise of conspiracy theories and counterarguments on digital social networks give rise to parent’s hesitancy against vaccine. Digital social networks become spaces of chatter, and unfortunately “feed parents’ fear and compromises progress in overall immunization coverage and puts children at greater risk of catching one or more fatal diseases”. This blog discusses how digital marketing can help to battle antivax misinformation, and how GaneshAID is contributing to the progress of combatting low immunization rates.
Vaccination, a Proof of Parental Affection
The primary responsibilities of parents are to ensure the health and well-being of their children. Vaccination is the most appropriate means of protection for a child. And contrary to rumors that plague the internet, vaccines given to children, in the fight against deadly childhood diseases, are safe, effective and harmless. It was thanks to vaccines that smallpox, a highly contagious and fatal disease, was completely eradicated.
Today as never before, vaccines provide immunity against measles, cholera, polio, meningitis, yellow fever, typhoid, and a dozen other more formidable diseases. Unfortunately, UNICEF estimates the annual number of deaths due to polio, rubella, tetanus and measles at 1.5 million, so it would be absurd to underestimate their dangerousness. It is important for all parents to be aware that access to primary health care, including vaccination, is a formidable shield against infectious diseases.
Online vaccine misinformation will inevitably affect millions if no steps are taken. The use of digital social networks as a regular means of disseminating proven information about vaccines will go a long way in reducing the harmful influence of anti-vaccine theories.
Digital Social Networks as a Means of Combating Anti-vaccine Propaganda
Part of the prevalence of online vaccine mistrust is that many rely on what they read and see on social media, regardless of the reliability of the information sources. Indeed, social networks facilitate the automatic reception and distribution of information of all kinds, real or manipulated. They are the place where too often the context of a news item, a photo, a testimony or a video can be taken out of context to mislead readers.
That being said, many organizations are harnessing the full potential offered by social media to hinder vaccine disinformation. Social media networks provide instant and easy access for health professionals and credible health organizations to use their digital media presence to promote pro-vaccine messages. Online vaccinations education sessions are also among strategies to deal with infodemia on the internet. Thus, the role of social media is tremendous in preventing global vaccination rates from stagnating.
GaneshAID, an Exemplary Actor
Aiming to save lives and keep millions of children in low-income countries safe from serious childhood illnesses, GaneshAID produces and publishes hundreds of reliable, well-illustrated contents across its platforms. The idea is to restore people’s confidence in vaccines, by emphasizing their safety and effectiveness against severe childhood illnesses. To do this, GaneshAID has developed a digital communication strategy that allows it to tactfully counter online anti-vaccine conspiracies. We do this by actively listening to parents, researching from reliable sources on the safety of vaccines, and taking into account abuses of anti-vaccine communication online. Common themes addressed by GaneshAID on all of its platforms are COVID-19 facts, innovation as an essential aid tool for vaccination coverage, realistic health quotes, the painful experience of under-immunized children, benefits of immunization around the world and the latest technology tools designed by GaneshAID to boost routine immunization activities, even during a pandemic.
GaneshAID’s Immunization Strengthening Campaign
The fight against online anti-vaccine propaganda is not just about denouncing misleading information, but also providing complete and reliable information on vaccines. GaneshAID ensures that credible material is posted at the appropriate time and links our followers to reliable sources such as Gavi or the World Health Organization. We understand the root causes that lead to more and more parents adhere so easily to false theories about vaccines and use these root causes as a basis for effective communication actions. GaneshAID presents the associated benefits of vaccines to health and well-being of children in both English and French to widen our global reach.
Actively listening to parents, researching on the safety of vaccines, and taking into account abuses of anti-vaccine communication online demonstrate our immense efforts in monitoring information to promote childhood immunization and highlight avoidable infection risks. After a duration of relentless positioning on digital social networks, the results are more than telling! GaneshAID’s publications reached over 63,906 people on social networks in the span of six months. That is 10,651 people per month and 264 people per week. A large number of this audience has become our loyal followers.
GaneshAID is making this happen, and the more actors there are, the better. What do you think about social media and its effects on immunization rates? Share your thoughts below!