The misinformation with regards to the covid-19 vaccine is spreading across social media platforms. As soon as news about a 90-year-old grandmother from the UK becoming the first person to get the covid-19 vaccine started in the media, several anti-vaxxers claimed that she did not exist and she was dead. Some people even claimed that she was part of a Bill Gates scheme to implement microchips.
Coronavirus Updates: Misinformation About Vaccine, UK Starts Mass Vaccinations
One of the popular sweets in this regard claimed that the 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan was a “crisis actress”. One particular tweet shared by @bankiegirl got more than 400 retweets from several accounts that had common hashtags like #WeDoNotConsent and #DoNotComply.
In total, more than 475000 Twitter users had been exposed to this tweet. This shows the rampant way in which misinformation is being spread on social media about the covid-19 vaccine. Similar messages and images that were posted on Facebook received close to 300 shares and 200 comments.
Several researchers have warned that this is just the beginning of viral hoaxes on social media. If the situation is not controlled at this stage, it may undercut Public Interest in the coming wave of immunizations as social media will feed unknown information about the virus and the vaccines to the public.
The first dose of vaccine is just around the corner in the US as several vaccine makers were awaiting emergency authorization by the FDA. Even as the death toll is climbing across the country, the opposition to the vaccine is also increasing with each passing day. The surprising thing is that the opposition is not coming just from the fringe anti-vaccine communities but also the mainstream Americans who have lost faith in the government due to the pandemic.
According to a survey, as many as 20% of US adults say that they do not want to get the vaccine even when there is more clarity in this regard. The numbers may increase in the near future due to the misinformation being spread about the vaccine on social media platforms.
Several people are already cautious about the vaccine and do not trust the medical establishment due to the way the pandemic was handled in the last few months. According to a research report, people of color are more wary about the vaccines, and close to half of them are not in favor of getting the vaccine even when it is available to the common public.
Experts who have analyzed similar trends of misinformation on social media platforms say that they are deeply concerned about the latest trend. They added that the initial information campaign about the covid-19 situation downgraded the intensity of the pandemic, and this is now shifting towards information on the vaccine.
Several conspiracy theories about the vaccine are shaping the perception of people about the vaccine. Some people believed that coronavirus was actually created and spread by powerful forces for their own gains, and the vaccines are also made by such people. Before the pandemic struck in the early parts of this year, not many people thought about vaccines, and it was not part of their daily lives. However, as the coronavirus pandemic has impacted every household in one way or the other, the covid-19 vaccine has become an important point of discussion among the public.
Several anti-vaccination groups are also trying to take advantage of the situation and offering bogus health remedies to handle the covid-19 situation. Health experts say that this can lead to a second wave of the pandemic in the near future. Many experts believe that the misinformation spread on social media platforms about the covid-19 vaccine can do more harm than the pandemic itself in the future.
Public Health experts say that if Americans are fooled by false information about the vaccine, this can put the community at risk, and it will delay the return to normal situation. Even though false claims about vaccines have circulated on social media platforms earlier, it was not as severe.
Anti-vaxxers now have a long reach on Facebook, and they are able to get millions of followers within a short duration of time by posting false information about coronavirus and vaccines. Facebook said that it would remove the post that spread false information about the vaccines.