Tuesday , May 18 2021

Anti-vaxxers makes social media a misinformed minefield, the expert says



The University of Auckland, associate professor Dr Nikki Turner, says people need to trust their health system around immunization. (File Photo)

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The University of Auckland, associate professor Dr Nikki Turner, says people need to trust their health system around immunization. (File Photo)

Social media worry makes their parents vaccinate their children, warned a top expert.

Director of the Immunization Advisory Center, Dr. Nikki Turner, said that the well-wise parents were incapable of misinformation, choosing to believe the hype towards their doctors.

But it was not the stopping of parents at the top of the south, as Nelson Marlborough Health recorded the highest level of vaccinated children.

Director of the Immunization Advisory Center, Dr. Nikki Turner, says parents think they often believe in social media for their general practitioner. (File Photo)

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Director of the Immunization Advisory Center, Dr. Nikki Turner, says parents think they often believe in social media for their general practitioner. (File Photo)

Health Ministry data released this week showed that the proportion of 5-year-olds who were not fully immunized fell from 15.9% between 2016 and 2017 to 13.5% between 2017 and 2018.

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A member of Strategic Advisory Expert Group of the World Health Organization (SAGE), Turner said parents have the right to "say no."

"New Zealand can wear them because we are protecting them.

"But if there were rising rates of declining parents then it would be a concern for the whole country," she said.

Social media has seen some parents become experts in immunization, she said.

"The social media is amplifying its fears. It is very sad to see extremely well-meaning parents who feel the need to know more than their own GP."

The national health target was 95 percent of children to be fully immunized for 8 months. Performance measures also covered 95% immunization coverage at the age of 2 and 5 years.

Health Ministry statistics showed that 88.1% of children aged 5 years had all the vaccines.

Immunization files held by New Zealand District Health Councils were recorded in the National Immunization Registry. This allowed experts to get an accurate picture of total coverage.

Turner said when he set up the center 20 years ago, immunization absorption rates were "a national shame."

It was a great improvement; childhood immunization programs are one of the most effective public health interventions.

"The absence of disease is a difficult product to heal. The better you are, the less visible it is," she said.

Part-time GP said that nurses in New Zealand were the best who helped release the word.

"If people are enrolled and involved in general practice, it makes a big difference. People need to trust in service."

Nelson Marlborough, Public Health Operations Manager Sonia Briggs, said parents seeking online information should "lack evidence-based information only from qualified medical professionals."

All health professionals engaging with pregnant women, babies or children have been provided with resources to have conversations about timely immunizations as well as discussing protection around prevented vaccine diseases, she said.

Blenheim, mother Tracey Hughes, chose to have her daughter, Jade Hughes, 8 years old, completely vaccinated.

"I followed what I recommended, I was completely vaccinated as a child, and I just saw it as a requirement, you just went on with it," she said.

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