A vaccine against misleading information?

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Professor Andy Barraclough summarizes his talk to the PCEC stressing that vaccination works to reduce disease, but for it to work effectively, a large proportion of the population needs to take part. He emphasized that you should rely on the scientific evidence and not fake news and unfounded reports to the contrary.
Professor Andy Barraclough summarizes his talk to the PCEC stressing that vaccination works to reduce disease, but for it to work effectively, a large proportion of the population needs to take part. He emphasized that you should rely on the scientific evidence and not fake news and unfounded reports to the contrary.

Professor Andy Barraclough at the June 23 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) shared information he has compiled over the years, about the effectiveness of being vaccinated against common diseases. With discussions and debates about the benefits or dangers of vaccination continuing in the media and other public forums, through his ongoing study of the issues presented, he has more information than the average person. Being very committed to the evidence-based approach he says his information is based on proven figures and facts. To this end he has travelled and investigated all the documented and empirical proofs he could accumulate. He showed his PCEC audience many of the graphs and lists compiled by various bodies.

Before beginning, he made clear that the material and opinion he presented represent his own personal belief on the evidence collected and people spoken to. He himself has no doubt as to the efficiency of vaccination. But he strongly suggested that he was not offering medical advice and at no time should one fail to consult their own doctor or medical institution before deciding what is best for them and their loved ones.

Andy Barraclough listens attentively as a member of the PCEC audience poses a question about his presentation on the benefit of being vaccinated to prevent many known diseases.
Andy Barraclough listens attentively as a member of the PCEC audience poses a question about his presentation on the benefit of being vaccinated to prevent many known diseases.

He thinks that most people know or have heard some of the debate for or against the benefits of vaccination. Whether this is from speakers to the general public, friends, social media, news media or other sources. Andy said there has always been opposition to vaccinations in general. Often this has caused furious debate or adverse reactions. Today, it is so easy to reach millions of people through digital and social media. He stressed that one hopes for greater acceptance of vaccination but fears perhaps a greater audience for the deniers.

There is no doubt of the influence of such methods. Andy said it is a sad fact that vaccination malformation has reached such a point that the World Health Organisation has been moved to declare, “One of the greatest challenges for Public Health Authorities is how to respond to today’s proliferation of misleading information about vaccines” – outbreaks of once almost forgotten childhood diseases have occurred in the USA, Europe and New Zealand in the last two years.

In essence, he said, there should be no debate about vaccination. The vast hard body of scientific evidence is overwhelming in its favour. But he believes that explanations of somewhat complex situations, especially of risks and probability, have not always been communicated clearly. There remain issues around vaccination which need to be communicated and understood by all, especially concerned parents and guardians.

He went on to show many graphs and articles that illustrate, clearly he feels to the satisfaction of most, the advisability of having vaccinations. Andy showed how the diseases again proliferated after fake news convinced people to stop having the injections. These widespread news articles and the unfortunate use in some areas of fake vaccines leaves people confused and uncertain.

The doctor showed maps of parts of the World where the mainly Muslim communities had not accepted the protection offered by the use of vaccines; notwithstanding proclamations by Muslim leaders to the contrary. These missed/abstaining areas clearly showed how all common diseases had proliferated. This illustrated what he referred to as the “Herd Immunity,” which he described as being the situation where the majority have been vaccinated against disease, then they do not contract it, thus reducing the opportunity for the infection to spread to those who may not be vaccinated. Thus, where one finds a pocket of resistance to getting vaccinated, the disease will spread among those in that area. So, there could be no doubt why people sickened there, but nowhere else in the country.

Yes, he stated, fake news about vaccines not being effective or having danger do exist. Further, figures show fake news travels at six times the speed of real news. Recently some such claim that Autism is caused by using vaccines, with the most recent being the vaccine against measles. Although, as usual with these claims, there is no evidence to back up such so-called news, they do get believed. As a result, there has been a large outbreak of measles cases in the USA and elsewhere.

Of particular interest to his audience was this chart Andy Barraclough displayed showing suggested vaccinations for those living in Thailand.
Of particular interest to his audience was this chart Andy Barraclough displayed showing suggested vaccinations for those living in Thailand.

He explained that fake news uses any tenuous link to show dangers in vaccines. Whilst in all honesty there is so much evidence around that shows vaccines do work. His graphs clearly showed that when vaccinations increase, there is a dramatic drop in the disease.

There were figures to show such decreases. He mentioned that Polio has almost been eradicated. He noted that measles for example hits 1 in 100 rather than the previous 1 in 500. With HIV, between 1990 and 1993 after a vaccine was introduced, cases fell from 20,000 to 1,500. Andy pointed out there are similar massive decreases in diseases whenever and wherever vaccines are used.

Here in Thailand Dr Barraclough said Japanese encephalitis is often found in and around the countryside and in caves. But there is a vaccine for this disease which one should get if they often travel in the rural areas or explore any of the many caves. Likewise, he advises vaccines for all commonly found problems such as Tetanus, Rabies and Hepatitis B be taken.

Overall, Andy stressed that vaccination works. For it to work consistently and effectively, a large proportion of the population needs to take part, thus providing for “herd immunity.” Further, his talk was aimed at showing how important vaccination is plus how important it is to discount fake news and misinformation about vaccination. All of his presentation slides can be viewed at: http://www.pcecnews.com/permNL/PCEC-Presentation-on-Vaccination.pdf.

The presentation was followed by announcements and news of special interest groups, then the Open Forum where the audience can ask questions or make comments about expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. For more information about the PCEC, visit www.pcec.club.