Friday , January 15 2021

Anti-vaxers make social media misinformation minefield, says expert



The professor of the University of Auckland, Dr. Nikki Turner says that people need to trust their healthy system around immunity. (Photo Archive)

STUFF

The professor of the University of Auckland, Dr. Nikki Turner says that people need to trust their healthy system around immunity. (Photo Archive)

Disturbed by social media is putting parents away from vaccinating their children, a senior expert has warned.

The director of the Immunization Advisory Center, Dr. Nikki Turner, said that good parents were confused about information, choosing to believe the hypocrisy over their own doctors.

But it did not stop parents in the top of the south, because Nelson Marlborough Health had just recorded its highest level of vaccinated children.

The director of the Immunization Advisory Center Dr. Nikki Turner says parents often believe social media over their GP. (Photo Archive)

Provided

The director of the Immunization Advisory Center Dr. Nikki Turner says parents often believe social media over their GP. (Photo Archive)

The Ministry of Health figures published this week showed that the 5-year-olds that were not fully immunized fell from 15.9% between 2016 and 2017 to 13.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.

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A member of the World Health Organization Expert (SAGE) Expert Advisory Group (SAGE) said that parents can "say no".

"New Zealand can carry them because the rest of us protects them.

"But if there were growing rates of parents who have declined, then it will be a worry for the whole country," she said.

Social media saw some parents become aware of immunization, she said.

"Social media absolutely amplifies their fears. It is very sad to see very good parents who feel the need to know more than their own GP."

The national health target was 95% of children totally immunized for 8 months. Mass media also targeted 95% immunized for 2 to 5 years.

The Health Ministry's statistics showed that 88.1% of the 5 year old had all their vaccines.

Included records kept by district health boards across New Zealand have been recorded in the National Immunization Registry. This allowed experts to obtain a precise image of total coverage.

Turner said that when she first set the center 20 years ago, the rates of immunization were "national confusion".

"There was a great improvement; children's immunization programs are one of our most effective interventions in public health.

"The absence of a disease is a difficult product to sell. The best you do, the less visible is," she said.

The part-time GP said New Zealand practitioner nurses were the best in helping to get the word.

"If people are registered and engaged in general practice, it makes a huge difference. People must trust the service."

The administrator administrator of Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service, Sonia Briggs, said that parents seeking information online should "link to evidence based information from qualified medical professionals only."

"All health professionals with pregnant women, creatures or children have provided resources to have conversations about timely immunizations, and discussions about protection around vaccines preventable diseases," she said.

Blenheim's mother Tracey Hughes chose to have her daughter, Jade Hughes, 8, totally vaccinated.

"We have followed what was recommended. I was completely vaccinated as a child as well and we only saw it as a requirement, you just accompany it," she said.


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