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Summer 2023 - Vaccines

The Spread of Misinformation and Its Effects on Vaccines

Political motivation rather than scientific data and research is perhaps one of the most problematic issues surrounding vaccine misinformation.

Patrick M. Schmidt

The spread of misinformation regarding vaccines is nothing new. In fact, some form of vaccine hesitancy has been occurring since the first vaccine was administered more than 200 years ago. Today, however, the effects of exposure to misinformation about vaccines has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, social media platforms had few policies that addressed vaccine misinformation. But now, with increasing public and political pressure, most of the major platforms all have explicit policies regarding COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation more broadly. Nevertheless, misinformation continues to flourish with damaging consequences.

Political motivation rather than scientific data and research is perhaps one of the most problematic issues surrounding vaccine misinformation. And, as we explain in our article “How Medical Misinformation About Vaccines Is Spread” (p??), while social media is often considered the main driver of misinformation, healthcare professionals, websites, blogs, media outlets and celebrities also contribute to its spread. Regrettably, the serious consequences arising from vaccine misinformation such as lack of herd immunity that is resulting in disease outbreaks are increasingly being felt. Therefore, it can’t be overstressed that healthcare professionals are key to combating the spread of misinformation by learning how to recognize it and sharing accurate, up-to-date, evidence-based information.

While a majority of the public attributes vaccine misinformation to childhood, influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, what seldom gets attention is how misinformation, conflicting information and lack of access contribute to adult vaccine hesitancy. We report in our article “Adult Vaccines: Fact vs. Fiction” (p.??) that at least three out of four adults are missing one or more recommended vaccines. Indeed, it’s often overlooked that adults need a Tdap booster every 10 years in addition to annual influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, and some adults with various health issues also require pneumococcal, hepatitis B and herpes zoster vaccines, but most don’t receive them. This is mainly a result of five misconceptions that we address, as well as lack of provider-patient communication. Fortunately, organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, have developed campaigns to encourage adult vaccine compliance and have outlined specific steps providers can take to ensure their patients get vaccinated.

With cancer now the second-leading cause of death worldwide, it’s no surprise that research to develop vaccines that prevent and/or cure cancer, which have been in development for decades, are now rapidly progressing with the success of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. In our article “Personalized Cancer Vaccine Development” (p.??), we describe the research behind many of these vaccines, which utilize mRNA, DNA and tumor antigen peptide technologies. It is projected that by controlling the costs of developing these vaccines, one may be available soon. It can only be hoped that misinformation won’t foil their promise.

As always, we hope you enjoy the additional articles in this issue of BioSupply Trends Quarterly, and find them both relevant and helpful to your practice.

Helping Healthcare Care,

Patrick M. Schmidt

Patrick M. Schmidt
Patrick M. Schmidt is the publisher of BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.