Vaccine hesitancy 1 April 2019 : Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report in the European Journal of Public Health on 25 February that there is a link between anti-establishment politics and vaccine hesitancy.

In response:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford):

My Lords, while there has not been a specific assessment on the link between anti-establishment politics and public confidence in vaccination, we take the issue of misinformation about vaccines extremely seriously land are working across government to tackle this. We are aware of global concerns regarding confidence in vaccinations knowing the protection that they give against deadly diseases, and I am pleased to say that in this country confidence in our vaccines is very high.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

I am grateful to the Minister for that positive Answer. She will know that the World Health Organization has declared the anti-vaccine movement as one of the top global health threats for 2019. That follows the tripling of the number of measles across Europe and the sixfold rise in the United States.

The paper in the European Journal of Public Health, to which my Question refers, says that there is a direct link between the rise in populist politics and vaccine hesitancy, and cites particularly Greece, Italy and France, and of course one would add the United States as well. There is also much disinformation about vaccines spread on Twitter and other social media.

Will the Government make vaccination compulsory as their response to this, as over one-third of countries have done and as we did in Britain in 1853 to combat smallpox? Secondly, what progress have they made in forcing the social media companies to take down this misleading information about vaccines?

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