COMMENTARY

Measles and Vaccine Hesitancy: American Academy of Pediatrics Responds

Kyle E. Yasuda, MD

Disclosures

March 19, 2019

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Hi. I'm Kyle Yasuda, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If trends continue, 2019 could see the worst measles outbreak in the United States in decades. As I film this, 10 states have confirmed cases of measles, including 73 cases in southwest Washington, my home state.

I've used social media to educate parents and build their trust in vaccinations. I urge you to do the same.

Measles is highly contagious. It's so contagious that if someone has measles, 90% of the people close to them will get it if they're not immune. The measles virus can live up to 2 hours in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed, even if that person has already left the room.

Yet despite these dangers, vaccination rates in pockets of the country are on the decline. At the same time, a social media movement promoting anti-vaccine activity is on the rise.

With much of the public getting their news online from Facebook and other platforms, it's important for pediatricians and others to join the conversation in this space where families gather information and form opinions about their child's health. It's a space where it is not always easy to distinguish sound medical facts from vaccine myths.

Because of its power to influence parents' decisions and behavior, I've used social media to educate parents and build their trust in vaccinations. I urge you to do the same.

If you are talking with a parent who is hesitant about vaccines, you want to listen respectfully to understand their concerns and to share the science and safety around vaccinations. I've found that this is the best way to bring them closer to a decision to vaccinate their children.

The AAP has contacted the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Pinterest to discuss how we can make sure the truth about vaccines is prioritized on social media. We shared our concern that their platforms are surfacing and recommending information that discourages parents from vaccinating their children, and we offered to help ensure that their users are finding medically accurate information.

We need to act today. We hope you'll join us in this push to strengthen parents' confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

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