Antivaxxers must not be given credence says Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “If you cannot encourage people to take up vaccines we are in trouble,” she said.While there has been great progress made in providing access to vaccines globally immunisation rates are stalling, the meeting heard.Wilson Mok, head of policy at Gavi, which provides vaccines to people in developing countries, said vaccine coverage was “stagnating” in low income countries .“We need to work with countries to strengthen immunisation systems. It could be down to human resources capacity, to supply chains, to data systems to ensure we’re not missing children in urban slums, rural areas and other marginalised groups. We need to get coverage rates up – that’s a focus for us,” he said.Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, said persuading people of the benefits of vaccines was a complex challenge.“In different countries the reasons for hesitancy around taking vaccines is varied. The key people in communities that families listen to – religious people or health professionals – this is a potential area for focus in terms of spreading positive messages,” she said. Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that positive messages about the benefits of vaccinations must be promoted in a bid to stop the spread of misinformation.Speaking at a parliamentary event about vaccinations and their role in fighting antimicrobial resistance Mr Hancock said that he did not want to give any “credence” to the “anti-vaxxers”, who spread junk science about immunisation.“We have to make sure communications around vaccinations are always positive and about the positive value of vaccines, rather than engage in debate which only improves the chances of [false] claims,” said Mr Hancock.There has been growing concern over recent months of the spread of anti-vaccine messages – with the World Health Organization identifying “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the 10 biggest threats to health.Social media – and Facebook in particular – has been singled out for failing to clamp down on harmful messages discouraging parents from vaccinating their children against potentially fatal diseases. Vaccine hesitancy is seen as one reason for an explosion in the number of measles cases in Europe and outbreaks in the United States, Japan and the Philippines. Mr Hancock told The Telegraph that vaccine hesitancy was not such a problem in the UK as immunisation levels were still high. “In other countries the problem is greater but the importance of vaccination is underlined by all the scientific studies,” he said.However immunisation rates have fallen in recent years, with the latest figures from the NHS showing that coverage for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine fell for the fourth year in a row in 2017-18.Coverage for this vaccine is now at 91.2 per cent in England, whereas the World Health Organization target is 95 per cent. This is the level at which “herd immunity” protects children who fall through the cracks or who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. London has the lowest rate of immunisation, at 85.1 per cent while the North East region has the highest coverage, at 94.5 per cent.Mr Hancock added: “It’s very important that misinformation isn’t spread and the most important thing we can do is to get the scientifically-based objective evidence of the value of vaccinations out there so that people know the truth.”The Department of Health said it was looking at how to improve communication campaigns around the importance of vaccines.  Philippa Whitford MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Vaccinations for All, said her committee would investigate vaccine hesitancy and the reasons for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *