Vaccination campaigns are wars against fake news – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology


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This article was written exclusively for The European Sting by Ms. Walquiria da Silva Pedra Parreira, second year medical student in Brazil at Centro Universitário de Valença. It is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.


2020 was the year of fear, of disbelief, but also of hope. In the midst of a pandemic that shook the structures of an extremely globalized planet, we have closed the doors and isolated ourselves.

But as airports closed doors to people everywhere, scientists held hands. And, in the race against time, the fruit of the prayers of an entire planet unfolded in record time.

Vaccines are, par excellence, the crystallization of scientific work in favor of a healthier and less unequal world, they are the hope and the bet to fight, not only against COVID, but against a series of other diseases.

And when it started to prove its effectiveness, the world then seemed to be able to breathe relieved, hoping that we would finally come to the resolution of this global crisis.

But the feeling aroused in the hearts of millions of people around the world was not exactly a relief. As the virus reached us, another evil also made its way, taking advantage of fear and insecurity: disinformation.

As research and development of various vaccines followed at a rate never seen before in the history of the planet, waves of distrust in them reached new heights around the planet. Distrust of the efficacy and necessity of vaccination has grown, driven by misinformation and conspiracy theories that have arisen and have spread across the most diverse social networks, reaching proportions overtaken only by the virus itself.

Government entities and scientists then fought not only against the virus, but also waged a war against fake news and conspiracy theories, alluring enough to turn vaccination campaigns into the virus, affecting vaccination coverage campaigns. in the world and in particular, especially in countries that were already suffering from the spread of false news or discredited the effectiveness of vaccines by government authorities, such as the case of Brazil and the United States.

And it is on social networks that scientists and health professionals are waging this new war, not against the virus, but against the fertile ground that these platforms represent for the development of information that reinforces a vision against vaccination, strengthening the common fears of the population partially or totally doubting the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, creating fear spirals aimed at side effects and the idea of ​​global domination and control by companies and Governments.

These factors add up and not only endanger the vaccination of healthy people, but they endanger those with co-morbidities and those who for whatever reason will not be able to get vaccinated, making logistics even more complex campaigns, which will require an extreme joint effort on the part of health professionals and governments to achieve vaccine percentages within the safety levels established by immunization campaigns.

We are fighting the virus, but it is the humans that we must defeat to win.

The references

Hortal M, Di Fabio JL. Rechazo y gestión en vacunaciones: sus claroscuros [Vaccine rejection and vaccination management: the grey areasRecusa vacinal e gestão da imunização: nuances e contrastes]. Rev. Panama Salud Publica. 2019; 43: e54. Posted June 7, 2019. doi: 10.26633 / RPSP.2019.54. access on January 25, 2021.

MASSARANI, Louise; LÉAL, Tatiane; Waltz, Igor. O debating sober vacinas em redes sociais: uma análise exploratória dos links com maior engajamento. Gujat. Saúde Publica, Rio de Janeiro, c. 36, supl. 2, e00148319, 2020. Available fromhttp://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-311X2020001405001&lng=en&nrm=iso>;. accessed Jan 25, 2021. Epub Aug 31, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311 urbaine00148319.

About the Author

Walquiria da Silva Pedra Parreira is a second year medical student in Brazil, at the Centro Universitário de Valença.

She is a member of IFMSA BRAZIL, where she is local director of research and publication and regional assistant within the national scientific team in the 2020/2021 management.

She is passionate about genetics, infectology and neurology and is a strong supporter of sustainable development.


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