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    UK PM Johnson Seeks to Tackle Anti-Vax 'Fake News' on Social Media to Stop Measles Spread - Report

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    by Zara Muradyan
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    The UK prime minister has ordered that urgent action be taken, including boosting vaccination rates, to make sure that children and young people are protected against the disease as Britain has lost its measles-free status due to the number of confirmed cases.

    As part of a large-scale campaign to stop the spread of measles in the UK, the newly-minted prime minister, Boris Johnson, is set to call a meeting for social media companies to discuss how to stem the flow of misleading antivax information, The Telegraph reported.

    "After a period of progress where we were once able to declare Britain measles free, we've now seen hundreds of cases of measles in the UK this year. One case of this horrible disease is too many, and I am determined to step up our efforts to tackle its spread. We need decisive action across our health service and society to make sure communities are properly immunised. We can and must do more to halt the spread of infectious, treatable diseases", Johnson said ahead of his visit to a hospital in the South West.

    The prime minister suggested that parents must be reassured that the vaccines are safe, while the government should make sure that people attend follow-up appointments to stop the spread of the virus.

    Johnson has also encouraged NHS officials to renew their efforts to ensure 95 percent of the population have had both doses of the MMR vaccine (against measles, mumps and rubella), as for the time being only 87.2 percent of kids have been given the second dose of the jab.

    "With this strategy, the whole health system will come together to renew focus on vaccinations, especially for our children, and this time we will eliminate measles for good", said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

    In March, Chief Executive of the NHS Simon Stevens claimed that "fake news" by anti-vaxers online had provoked a tripling in measles cases and suggested that the spread of misinformation on YouTube and Instagram was one of the key factors behind the decline in vaccination uptake.

    Stevens, who previously blamed social media platforms for a surge in mental health issues among young people, made reference to a poll by the Royal Society for Public Health, which found that half of parents had read negative messages about vaccines online.

    Just three years after the World Health Organisation declared the United Kingdom measles-free, there were 231 confirmed cases of the infectious disease in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

    Tags:
    misinformation, fake news, anti-vaccination, vaccination, Vaccine, measles, mumps and rubella, measles outbreak, measles, National Health Service (NHS), Boris Johnson
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