Simon Harris is set to haul social media chiefs before him at a Vaccines Summit over their role in the spread of vaccination scaremongering.
The Minister for Health is keen to tackle the scourge of vaccine disinformation that he believes has led to the fall-off in children being inoculated against often deadly diseases.
And he has now written to the bosses of Twitter, Facebook, Google and Pinterest – among other big techs with headquarters in Dublin – inviting them to come meet him for serious chats.
The Irish Sunday Mirror previously revealed that the fear of perfectly safe vaccinations has led to a sad decline in the numbers getting their shots to save them from diseases like measles..
Figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show up to 25% of infants and toddlers are not receiving their vital jabs in some parts of Ireland.
The shocking reality is that simple injections can protect you for life against these diseases that health services worldwide are battling to eradicate.
Mr Harris wants to make this clear and has laid this out in the letters to the social media companies.
He is reminding them of their responsibilities in this area as the moderators of the social media forums where most of the anti-vaccines bunkum is spread.
In the letters being sent out, Mr Harris writes: “Vaccine hesitancy has been identified by the World Health Organisation as one of the ten leading threats to global health in 2019.
“This week, I will launch an alliance of healthcare professionals and policy makers to promote vaccination, particularly the childhood immunisation programme and the HPV vaccine for girls and boys.
“The aim of the Alliance is to increase vaccination uptake rates by promoting vaccination and improving understanding of, and confidence in, vaccination among the public in Ireland.
“As you are aware, one of the sources of misinformation about vaccination is social media.
“In fact, the European Commission paper ‘Strengthened Cooperation against Vaccine Preventable Diseases’ has identified the need to combat the spread of disinformation in the digital era as a key priority in tackling vaccine hesitancy.
“Therefore, I would like to invite you to a meeting on social media, vaccination and vaccine hesitancy.
“I am particularly interested in hearing your proposals on how we can work together to combat the spread of misinformation about vaccination.
“My diary secretary will be in touch with you shortly to arrange a date.
“I look forward to working with you on this vital issue.”
Mr Harris’ is upping the ante ahead of the launch of a new Vaccination Alliance on Tuesday.
The alliance is a new group of healthcare professionals, advocates and policymakers with the aim of addressing the vaccination hesitancy crisis in Ireland.
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