“BSTM Pro-Vaccines Brazil” will promote debate and information that support the valuation of preventive measures

Publicação: 5 de June de 2019

The biggest threat is not the fear of vaccination, but the absence of fear of the disease. Data indicate that 4 to 6% of Brazilians do not believe in vaccination. And 20% of people hesitate to vaccinate

Loss of confidence in vaccines and immunization programs can lead to reluctance and refusal of the vaccine, risking disease outbreaks and challenging immunization goals

In the last years an anti-science and anti-vaccines movement have been growing all over the world, facilitated by the dynamism of social networks. Especially on the topic of vaccines, there is great concern about the resurgence or recrudescence of vaccine-preventable diseases. “In face with this, it is up to the scientific communities to act proactively by fighting disinformation and promoting enlightening debates. In this way, the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (BSTM) has taken this initiative as a contribution to the efforts to promote health and life”, says Professor Dr. Carlos Graeff Teixeira, from the Biomedical Parasitology Group of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUC-RS), one of the founders of the project “Pró-Vacinas SBMT Brasil” [BSTM Pro-vaccines Brazil].

Still according to the professor, different information and news are quickly disseminated nowadays through different social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Analyzing the subjects that circulate daily in these social networks, as well as identifying their influencers, has been the subject of different researches. “The main objective of the “BSTM Pro-Vaccines Brazil” is to understand the arguments and emotions contrary to the vaccines and to disseminate concrete data on efficacy and adverse reactions of the vaccines, promoting debate and information that subsidize the valorization of the preventive measures, and then generating material to counter-argue and disseminate knowledge”, he explains. In addition to immediate actions to promote correct information about vaccines, the “BSTM Pro-Vaccines Brazil” is planning an investigation and follow-up of anti-vaccine content in social media, with the participation of teachers Isabel Manssour and Silvia Moraes (Computing and Language, PUC-RS) and Márcia Grisotti (Sociology, UFSC).

To limit the dissemination of anti-vaccine content, social networks have recently begun to take corrective measures. After Facebook, Instagram started to adopt measures to combat the dissemination of this content through the use of artificial intelligence. The anti-vaccine content searched for in the Search bar and related hashtags are monitored and, when detected, displays alerts on the legitimacy of the information and contacts of health experts. Youtube is withdrawing the monetization of videos with this theme. Twitter also declared war against anti-vaccination movements. Anyone looking for subjects related to the theme will receive as a first result a special tab with information from reliable sources – in the case of Brazil, the Ministry of Health itself (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and other Latin American countries also started the campaign).

The “BSTM Pro-Vaccines Brazil” already has the support of the Brazilian Society of Immunizations (SBIm) and the Brazilian Society of Infectology (SBI). “We hope that other societies will also join the initiative”, reinforces Professor Graeff.

BSTM and Sesc partnership

The idea of producing content and materials for social media trying to stimulate vaccination and counteract the anti-vaccine movement gains another ally, the Social Service of Commerce (SESC), which is even initiating a project design dedicated to the vaccination calendar. Sesc, aware of the mission to launch, in partnership with public and private institutions, initiatives to confront emergencies in Public Health, launched in 2019 in social networks and via WhatsApp the campaign “Do not give up your health because of a rumor”, reaching 6.159.788 people throughout Brazil.

When acknowledging strategies that reinforce the importance of vaccination as the main prevention action, the two organizations are now working on an immunization project to be developed at the national level, as well as launching the “BSTM Pro-vaccine Brazil” initiative during the 55th Congress of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (MedTrop), which will be held in Belo Horizonte, from July 28 to 31 at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Both the SBMT and Sesc recognize that the field of prevention, in particular, stands out as an indispensable area to reach the objectives of optimization of health conditions, contemplating actions of detection and control of risk factors, requiring the identification and socialization information on health protection factors. However, information alone is not enough to bring about a transformation of a given reality.

The field of immunization is no different, purely informative campaigns are not guaranteeing the desired vaccination coverage. It is necessary to carry out activities and actions that from a dialogical perspective involving the various social actors, give light to the different reasons that contribute to the resistance of the population to vaccination campaigns. In this sense, the educational component is fundamental.