Amid Social Media Censorship, Why Are Some People Still Hesitant About Vaccines?

By Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai
March 29, 2019 Updated: March 29, 2019

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its “Ten threats to global health in 2019” list, and it included vaccine hesitancy among the list of environmental threats and diseases.

Vaccine hesitancy is defined as reluctance or refusal to use vaccines. The reasons for vaccine hesitancy are complex and numerous.

In early March, Congressman Adam Schiff reached out to Amazon, Facebook, and Google through letters urging them to remove information, search results, products, and content that include viewpoints opposing vaccines.

The Epoch Times interviewed Summer Boger, secretary of the Eagle Forum of California, a conservative organization, about the issue of vaccines and how government control and social media censorship is affecting the public’s access to information.

“We should be able to have healthy, critical conversations, and we should be able to question. I feel like those are inalienable rights, that here in America, we’re allowed to debate, we’re allowed to have conversation. And they’re considering this conversation misinformation if it goes against the vaccine agenda,” Boger said.

The American Medical Association’s a Code of Medical Ethics states there must be informed consent between a patient and a doctor. It reads, “Patients have the right to receive information and ask questions about recommended treatments so that they can make well-considered decisions about care.”

According to Boger, many people have valid concerns about vaccines, or they may have had reactions to vaccines that made them start to worry about their safety.

Boger said, “I think the biggest reason [vaccine hesitancy has] gotten the most publicity is that they are now ‘ex-vaxxers,’ not ‘anti-vaxxers,’ which means that they, themselves, were vaccinated, and their children are vaccinated, and they had a severe reaction and decided after that they weren’t going to vaccinate anymore.”

Other reasons include allergies, religious faith, ethical reasons, and more. All of these contribute to a person’s decision of whether or not to receive a vaccination.

Boger said many people are aware of the ingredients in vaccines and the vaccine-making process. Whether it’s cells grown from aborted baby tissue or various animal tissues, some people may be opposed to having certain substances used in the production of something that would be injected into their bodies.

People who follow faiths that don’t allow beef or pork may also choose not to get vaccines using cow or pig tissue.

Recently, various areas around the United States have reported a rise in measles cases.

State legislators have been introducing bills that would modify vaccine provisions and exemption rules. SB-584, introduced in Washington State, and SB-276, introduced in California, both limit students’ choice of refusing vaccines and to prohibit them from attending school if they do not receive vaccines.

As such, many people worry that the vaccine industry is too involved with the government.

“The biggest lobby is the pharmaceutical industry. [The] pharmaceutical industry tends to make a lot of money, and that started when they were able to patent drugs and market them,” said Boger.

Meanwhile, Boger said some people are concerned about how vaccines are studied.

“There’s something called the gold standard, which all pharmaceutical drugs or medications are supposed to follow. There is a double-blind placebo used, and they’re able to tell what the effect of that drug is,” said Boger.

However, not all vaccine testing uses this approach. According to the WHO, “Randomised, placebo-controlled trial designs often raise ethical concerns when participants in the control arm are deprived of an existing vaccine.”

In other words, researchers worry that people who don’t get the recommended vaccines may be at higher risk of disease, so they often test new vaccines against old vaccines instead of a placebo.

Although WHO lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 health threats, the organization stated that vaccine hesitancy is not the cause of all disease outbreaks, such as the current rise in measles.

The WHO website states, “The reasons for this rise [in measles] are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy.”

Part of the effectiveness of vaccines relies on chance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two main factors that determine the effectiveness of a vaccine are 1) the age and health of the person receiving a vaccine, and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu vaccine and flu viruses spreading in the community.

While studies have found that vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of certain diseases, they still do not guarantee protection against the contraction and spread of disease.

Cynthia Cai
Cynthia Cai