Social media platforms urged to tackle ‘misinformation’ on vaccines
Social media companies need to do more to fight “misinformation” on vaccines following a “spike” in measles cases, health minister Jo Churchill has said.
Ms Churchill said the Government will work alongside social media companies to make sure people have access to enough information to “help keep their children safe”, as the UK sees a rise in the number of reported cases of measles.
She said immunisation is important in fighting diseases like measles, warning more needs to be done to make sure parents have their children vaccinated.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Churchill said: “There has been a spike, we’ve had more than 230 cases of measles in the UK during the first quarter of this year, so we will be strengthening the role of the local immunisation coordinators and making sure that parents have all the information that they need.”
She said the NHS and the Government need to work with social media companies so that “misinformation is also taken down, and that we give people the correct information that they can help keep their children safe”.
Ms Churchill added: “I actually think we can go a little harder and make sure they work with us.”
She said: “We know that vaccinations are an incredibly good way of protecting large numbers of the population.
“And the side-effects of somebody that contracts measles are awful, and it also affects other groups with low immune systems, so people suffering from leukaemia for example.”
Ms Churchill said the Government is working to make sure there are no shortages of drugs, including measles vaccines, following Brexit.
She said: “On the measles vaccine, there are buffer stocks in place and I don’t see any issue with supply.
“We also saw last week the Secretary of State procuring an express freight service with the aim to secure transport for medical supplies within 24 hours.”
Asked about the availability of other drugs, including insulin, Ms Churchill said: “Making sure that people feel safe when they need their supplies of insulin or other drugs, many of us take drugs to help us stay fit and healthy, that they can be sure that those supplies are there.”
She added: “People are already dealing with their own particular set of circumstances around the disease, and making sure that we don’t give them anything else to worry about is what we are focusing on every day.”