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The US government has been slow to take action against social media about vaxxers about coronavirus vaccine



“We are behind here,” said Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health. “We didn’t do a good job [coronavirus vaccine] information out there. “

The stakes are very high. A CNN poll in May found that a third of Americans said they would not try to vaccinate against coronavirus, even if it was widely available and low-cost.

“Speaking for myself, I think I underestimated the level of public resistance,” Collins said. “I didn’t expect it to spread like that.”

A spokesman for “Operation Warp Speed”, the Trump administration’s effort to bring the coronavirus vaccine to market, said a public education campaign will “soon focus”

; on vaccine education.

“We are noticing more vaccine hesitation with other vaccines. We know that,” said Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. makes us worry “.

There was not much time to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and others say they expect a vaccine to be marketed in December or January.

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“We know what is really important, especially for a new vaccine, to start this conversation early,” said Chelsea Clinton, who works on vaccine advocacy with the Clinton Foundation. “We saw the importance of that decades ago when the polio vaccine first appeared in the mid-1950s. So we know what we need to do. We just aren’t. do that.”

There are no words from the CDC

Traditionally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been the federal agency that develops vaccine education programs.

In June, CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said a plan was in place.

“We are developing a plan as we speak to continue building vaccine trust efforts in this country, which is really important,” Redfield said at the hearing. of the Senate Medical Committee on Covid-19.

CNN asked a CDC spokeswoman what happened to the plan Redfield mentioned, and what the CDC did to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine. She did not reply.

CNN asked Clinton what work the CDC did to educate Americans about the Covid vaccine.

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“They don’t do a job,” she said. “I wish [this] work is being done outside of the Centers for Disease Control, but it’s not happening. “

Collins also noted that the CDC was not unusually active on this front.

“This is important, and I know [the CDC has] Collins tried their own way to advertise, but they were not particularly successful, “Collins said.

Over the past few months, Operation Warp Speed ​​has taken over several functions of the CDC.

Operation Warp Speed ​​”is developing a strong public health information campaign,” Caputo said.

He added that the program has worked hard to work with industry and community leaders and NGOs, and will deliver public service announcements to health professionals and people. famously discussed various topics related to Covid-19.

But vaccine-related public service announcements won’t be made public until the end of November.

To build trust, Caputo says, they have to know what vaccines will come out first and whether certain vaccines can work especially well for a certain group, such as the elderly. Six vaccine companies have received funding from the Warp Speed ​​Campaign.

Private groups, such as Vaccination for Your Family and Voices for Immunizations, have started their Covid-19 vaccine campaign to promote vaccine confidence.

The National Institutes of Health and the COVID-19 Prevention Network, established by NIH, have begun efforts to engage with various groups to talk about vaccines.

But Clinton said a larger-scale vaccine education effort should have been made months ago, as anti-vaxxers have flooded social media with creepy lies about vaccines against Covid-19.

“Nothing is really happening in our country on this front on a coordinated level,” Clinton said.

Those lies include social media memes saying the vaccine would leave behind an invisible, trackable digital tattoo; that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leader in the vaccine effort, is actually Satan; And vaccines will hide your face in a hideous way.

The strength of the anti-vaccine movement

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Clinton noted that the strength of the anti-vaccine movement should not be underestimated. Last year’s measles outbreak, the biggest in nearly 25 years, was largely supported by the anti-vaccine movement, which was rampant on social media.

“Unfortunately, the anti-vax content is much more viral, much more sticky than the prop for vaccine, public health, in favor of science,” she said.

Collins said he thinks the anti-vaccine efforts that triggered last year’s measles outbreak have been as effective as measles vaccines have been so successful for decades that many people are unaware of the virus. how lethal.

“People no longer believe it can kill a child,” Collins said. “But I guess I thought since Covid-19 was killing people every day and thousands of them, it would be less tempting to say ‘Oh, maybe we don’t need that for this.’ But obviously I was wrong. “

CNN’s Wesley Bruer and John Bonifield contributed to this story.


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