The Labour Party has described anti-vaccination content on social media as ‘poison’ and has called on the government to bring forward laws that could see financial and criminal penalties for companies that fail to remove such content.
Since reports emerged of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out before the end of the year, many websites have seen an increase in posts expressing views against the use of vaccines.
Demonstrations against the use of vaccines and general lockdown measures have also been seen over recent months, with some demonstrators claiming that vaccines harm rather than help people.
In August, an Ipsos MORI poll revealed that only 53% of people surveyed said they’d be certain or very likely to get a vaccine against Coronavirus, if available, while 1 in 6 people said they were unlikely to or definitely wouldn’t get a vaccine if one is made available. Furthermore, some research has suggested the number of people intending to get a vaccine, if available, has fallen over recent months.
The Government has said that it takes the issue of tackling anti-vaccine content ‘extremely seriously’ and had secured commitments from Facebook, Twitter and Google to tackle such content.
Many social media platforms already label false or disputed content, however, Labour has called for more action.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that the Labour Party wanted to work with the government to build trust and help promote the take-up of the vaccine.
Speaking to Sky New’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, in an outdoor interview where he battled adverse weather conditions, Mr Ashworth argued for there being for “strong public health messaging”, saying that people will have “legitimate questions” about any vaccines that become available.
Among expected concerns is that the vaccines currently being developed have been researched and produced much quicker than vaccines in the past due to the global effort to find a breakthrough. Some may be sceptical over the safety of any vaccine, however, in the UK, a vaccine will not be released until it passes safety tests and is approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The taking of vaccines in the UK is optional and this seems unlikely to change, however, researchers have indicated that around 60% of the population will need to be vaccinated before population immunity can be achieved.
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