Over 800 posts with misinformation about vaccines that HSE reported on social media
More than 800 posts that contain misinformation or are potentially harmful to health have been reported by the HSE on social networks since February.
The deputy chief doctor urged people not to rely on “unsubstantiated information” about the Covid-19 vaccine and warned that “inaccurate or misleading” information about the pandemic was still spreading online.
Another 1,386 people were diagnosed with Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health.
106 people are hospitalized with the disease, 22 of them in intensive care.
In a statement on Friday, Dr. Ronan Glynn that false information about coronavirus vaccines, which were spread before vaccines were developed, undermines vaccination efforts in many countries, “prolongs the pandemic and puts lives at risk”.
“We can all work together to stop the spread of misinformation,” said Dr. Glynn. “Remember that not every post on social media is reliable or accurate – if you’re not sure, don’t share it.”
Vaccination uptake in Ireland is generally very high – a public opinion poll conducted in Amárach last week found that 81 percent of those under 35 who hadn’t been vaccinated said they would get the vaccination next week if offered.
More than 66 percent of the Irish population is now fully vaccinated, while over 80 percent are partially vaccinated, according to the Health Service Executive.
However, there are still concerns that some younger people who are now able to register for the vaccine are skeptical about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine based on material they read online.
More than 800 social media posts that “were potentially harmful to health or contain deliberately misinformation regarding a range of health topics including vaccines” have been reported on social media by HSE since February, an HSE spokeswoman said.
Steps are also being taken to ensure these high rates persist in communities that are more reluctant to receive the vaccination based on international data, she said.
This includes a multilingual advertising campaign the HSE is running on digital audio platforms like TuneIn and Spotify to ensure Ireland’s immigrant community, more prone to misinformation due to language barriers, receives reliable health advice, she said.
“Dynamic audio allows us to take the language setting on a person’s phone to provide an appropriate display,” she said. “Political advertisements are the most frequently heard of these. We will continue to monitor the performance of the available languages. Radio advertisements can also be seen on community radio in Italian, Spanish, French, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and Russian. “
The #ForUsAll campaign, launched in May to promote vaccine rollout via social media, is aimed at young people and encourages them to “be part of the biggest social movement of our time,” said the HSE spokeswoman. The Covid-19 Vaccine Community Network, which includes the GAA, faith groups and health workers, is also helping to build trust in the vaccine, she said.
A health ministry spokesman warned of the “infodemic” that coincides with the pandemic, saying the government is working with public health doctors to address misinformation through “various channels,” including the press conferences of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). Media interviews and content on your own social media channels.
The Sci Comm Collective, a network of young scientists and doctors, was also set up to “inspire and empower” young people through posts on Instagram and TikTok for a safe life during the pandemic, he said. The joint website contains videos from a number of university students and graduates offering advice and guidance on the Covid-19 virus, vaccine, and how to be safe with people during the pandemic.
Professor Philip Nolan, Chairman of the Advisory Group on Epidemiological Modeling of the NPHET. File Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
On the previous Friday, Nphet official Prof. Philip Nolan warned that “herd immunity” was an abstract concept and that there was no “magic” number to be achieved in which “everything would return to normal”.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Prof. Nolan said that herd immunity was a useful concept, but that reaching 85 percent would not mean life could get back to normal.
High vaccination rates would have to be achieved before “non-pharmaceutical” restrictions could be relaxed, he said.
In the meantime, everyone as a society had to continue to contribute. Gradually reducing other restrictions could be considered if vaccination rates were increased, he said.
Prof. Nolan warned against looking at recent events in Scotland, where the number of cases rose and then fell. There are always reasons to be optimistic and not focus on the “grim possibilities”, but it is not inevitable that a particular trajectory will occur, he added.
What happened next depended on “what we are doing over the next few weeks.”
“Where the numbers go next depends on us. The good news is that the vaccine gives us great protection, ”he said.
Prof. Nolan urged the public to “get your vaccine when it is offered” as the Delta variant would remain a significant threat in the coming weeks.
Some people who were vaccinated felt “inappropriately bulletproof,” he said, adding that while the vaccine offered protection, the virus could still be transmitted. “We cannot let the disease get out of hand.”