Researchers devise online tool to monitor vaccine fears

05/13/2013 | MedPage Today (free registration)

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine adapted the HealthMap disease data collection system to pinpoint communities in which fears and mistrust of immunization programs are growing. The speed at which rumor and misinformation travel via social media "can seriously undermine public confidence, leading to low rates of vaccine uptake and even disease outbreaks," lead researcher Heidi Larson said. Researchers tracked 3,209 negative online reports about vaccines and found 24% were linked to effects on vaccine programs and outbreaks of disease, the researchers report in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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