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Social media companies agree to liase with Department of Health on tackling anti-vaccine misinformation

Minister for Health Simon Harris met with Facebook, Google and Twitter today.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Nov 25th 2019, 6:35 PM

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has met with a number of social media companies today to discuss measures they are taking to deal with misinformation regarding vaccinations.

The minister met with Facebook, Google and Twitter earlier today to discuss the challenges faced by the spread of anti-vaccine information.

“The progress we have made in reducing, and in some cases eradicating, vaccine-preventable diseases will be in vain if we allow our immunisation programmes to be undermined by misinformation and disinformation about the benefits and safety of vaccines, particularly on social media,” said Harris. 

Harris commended the companies for being proactive and putting measures in place to tackle the issue of misinformation about vaccines. 

He said: ”The companies themselves acknowledged they have a responsibility to their users in the area of public health.

“While some of them have taken measures to combat vaccine misinformation, they acknowledged there was much more work to be done and agreed to liaise with the Department regarding the work of the Vaccine Alliance and with the HSE to progress further initiatives,” he said. 

“We must do everything we can to ensure people get accurate and reputable information on public health.”

Harris said Ireland is currently experiencing an outbreak of mumps. The outbreak started in the summer of 2018, peaked in spring 2019, declined over the summer months but the numbers of notifications have increased since September 2019, he said.

“The outbreak is affecting predominantly young adults in the 15-24 year age group. The best protection against mumps is to be age appropriately vaccinated with the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine.

“All children should be age appropriately vaccinated,” he said. 

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