Media/Policy Watch

Media/Policy Watch

This watch section is intended to alert readers to substantive news, analysis and opinion from the general media and selected think tanks and similar organizations on vaccines, immunization, global public health and related themes. Media Watch is not intended to be exhaustive, but indicative of themes and issues CVEP is actively tracking. This section will grow from an initial base of newspapers, magazines and blog sources, and is segregated from Journal Watch above which scans the peer-reviewed journal ecology.

We acknowledge the Western/Northern bias in this initial selection of titles and invite suggestions for expanded coverage. We are conservative in our outlook in adding news sources which largely report on primary content we are already covering above. Many electronic media sources have tiered, fee-based subscription models for access. We will provide full-text where content is published without restriction, but most publications require registration and some subscription level.

 
 
The Associated Press
https://apnews.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
More than 900 dead in Madagascar measles outbreak
February 21, 2019
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The World Health Organization says that an epidemic of measles in Madagascar has caused more than 900 deaths.
According to WHO figures, there have been more than 68,000 cases of the disease in which 553 deaths were confirmed and another 373 suspected from measles since the outbreak began in September.
Those most at risk are infants from nine to 11 months old.
The epidemic is blamed on a low immunization rate for measles across the island nation over a period of many years, according to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. The vaccination rate is estimated to be less than 60 percent, according to figures from WHO and UNICEF figures, he said.
Madagascar has launched a nationwide campaign to try to bring the outbreak under control, through mass vaccination campaigns and surveillance.
 
 
The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
The Economist
http://www.economist.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/home/uk
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
5 Cognitive Biases That Explain Why People Still Don’t Vaccinate
Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children often fall prey to several common cognitive biases, experts say.
By  Sarah Watts  Contributor
…The subject of vaccines involves complex medical science, so the mechanism of how they work and what’s in them can be hard for a layperson to understand. Additionally, because public safety is involved (particularly the safety of children, who are more vulnerable to disease), strong emotions abound. As a result, people are likely to fall prey to a number of cognitive biases when deciding whether or not to vaccinate. Here are just five examples.
1. Cognitive dissonance. “Cognitive dissonance occurs when an individual has conflicting thoughts or behavior. To ease the discomfort, the individual either needs to change the behavior or change the belief,” says Smith. For a parent who hears about the efficacy of vaccines but also worries they may harm their child, they may decide that vaccines don’t work in order to eliminate the dissonance. “Though these conclusions are incorrect, choosing to believe them makes parents feel better about their choices to not vaccinate,” says Smith.

2) Omission bias. “One interesting bias I’ve come upon is the omission bias,” says Dr. Nidhi Ghildayal, researcher and PhD in Public Health at the University of Minnesota. In regard to vaccines, the omission bias occurs when “parents believe that the act of vaccinating, which they may have heard has a small chance of [side effects], is worse than simply not committing any action, even if the potential consequences of this non-action pose a significantly higher risk.” In other words, not vaccinating can feel safer because it’s an inaction – even though the risks involved in that inaction are greater.

3) Confirmation bias. Parents who choose not to vaccinate may also rely on confirmation bias to justify their decision, says Smith. “Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret or focus on information which supports our existing beliefs,” she says. Although everyone falls victim to confirmation bias some of the time, parents who choose not to vaccinate “frequently turn a blind eye to the copious research and evidence that shows the necessity of vaccines, and instead focus on any evidence that supports what they believe in order to feel better about their decision,” Smith says.

4) Availability heuristic. “The availability heuristic is another common cognitive bias in which individuals tend towards remembering or rehashing rare or distant instances in which vaccines have failed, as opposed to understanding and retaining all the instances in which vaccines have worked and prevented illness,” Ghildayal says. “Media and social circles are much more likely to bring up these rare occurrences, so an individual is much more likely to have those cases in the front of their mind.”

5) Illusory correlation. The illusory correlation is a belief that a relationship exists between two variables when in reality, it probably doesn’t. “Parents may choose to believe that children who show symptoms of autism have been influenced by vaccinations, since the symptoms and the vaccinations tend to occur around the same time,” says Smith, even though the connection between autism and vaccinations has been debunked. “A preconceived belief about the connection between vaccination and autism leads parents to use any incidence where autism and vaccination co-occur to confirm their bias and to support their choice to not vaccinate.”

 
 
Foreign Affairs
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
Foreign Policy
http://foreignpolicy.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
The Guardian
http://www.guardiannews.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
Vaccines and immunisation
Opinion
The Guardian view on vaccination: a duty of public health
Editorial
The anti-vaxx movement arises from mistrust but threatens the physical health of society
Sun 17 Feb 2019
[See Milestones/Perspectives above for full text]
 
 
New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
Health
Feb 23, 2019
Pinterest Restricts Vaccine Search Results to Curb Spread of Misinformation
Pinterest, a digital platform popular with parents, took an unusual step to crack down on the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda: It purposefully hobbled its search box.
Type “vaccine” into its search bar and nothing pops up. “Vaccination” or “anti-vax”? Also nothing.
Pinterest, which allows people to save pictures on virtual pinboards, is often used to find recipes for picky toddlers, baby shower décor or fashion trends, but it has also become a platform for anti-vaccination activists who spread misinformation on social media.
It is an especially effective way to reach parents: 80 percent of mothers and 38 percent of fathers in the United States are on Pinterest, according to 2017 data from comScore. The company has more than 250 million monthly active users and is expected to go public this year.
Other platforms like Facebook and YouTube have also been infiltrated with misinformation about vaccines, and are taking steps to combat it. One of YouTube’s policies is to demonetize anti-vaccine videos.
But only Pinterest, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal, has chosen to banish results associated with certain vaccine-related searches, regardless of whether the results might have been reputable.
“Right now, blocking results in search is a temporary solution to prevent people from encountering harmful misinformation,” said Jamie Favazza, a spokeswoman. The company said it was working with experts to develop a more tailored long-term approach.
The changes, which were not publicly announced, started in September and October.
 
 
Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/home-page?_wsjregion=na,us&_homepage=/home/us
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
[No new, unique, relevant content]
 
 
Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
Accessed 23 Feb 2019
Some anti-vaccination parents cite religious exemptions. Measles outbreaks could change that.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey · Feb 21, 2019