In 1918, the death rate caused by influenza was at an all time high. Approximately 500 million people were infected during the pandemic, and between 50-100 million died.
One hundred years later and advances in science and technology have led to vaccinations, rendering outbreaks of flu – and measles, rubella, diphtheria and polio – rare.
However, rumours and conspiracies surrounding the supposed side effects of the vaccines have caused some parents to refuse giving them to their children.
In the case of measles, – a highly infectious viral infection resulting in fevers, rashes, and flu-like illness – the distrust in the vaccine led to a resurgence of the virus in parts of the United States.
Some believe that the cause of the next major outbreak won’t be a lack of preventative technologies, but instead medical misinformation.
Professor Heidi J. Larson at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine states:
“Instead, emotional contagion, digitally enabled, could erode trust in vaccines so much as to render them moot.”
Medical misinformation has become so prevalent that the World Health Organisation has declared vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019.
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