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Why rumors about vaccines spread -- and how to rebuild trust

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    I study rumors.
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    Not tabloid gossip
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    or the kind of rumors
    that are making stock markets crash --
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    or soar --
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    but the kind of rumors
    that affect your health ...
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    and the world's health.
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    Like eating a lot of garlic
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    or drinking a lot of water
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    is going to help
    protect us from coronavirus --
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    if only.
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    Rumors have a bad reputation.
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    They're seen as not fact,
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    wrong,
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    or "just a rumor."
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    But I've studied rumors for years,
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    and one thing I've learned
    is that they all have a story,
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    and often, an important story.
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    One of the most moving or alarming
    rumor episodes that I investigated
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    was in northern Nigeria.
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    I was working with UNICEF's
    Global Immunization programme.
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    And it wasn't the rumors themselves
    that I found so alarming;
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    It was the global impact of those rumors.
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    The rumors were suspecting
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    that the polio vaccine
    was actually a contraceptive.
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    It was controlling populations --
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    or maybe it caused AIDS.
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    No, no, maybe it's the CIA
    spying on them or counting them.
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    I mean, why else would they have people
    knocking on their door again and again
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    with the same polio vaccine?
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    When children were dying of measles,
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    no one was coming with measles vaccines.
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    This wasn't about getting the facts right.
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    This was about trust.
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    It was about broken trust.
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    Why so much distrust?
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    It wasn't the mothers who were
    particularly distrusting, actually.
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    It was the local leaders,
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    the religious leaders,
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    the local political leaders.
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    It was the governor of the state of Kano
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    who decided to boycott
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    the entire polio eradication
    effort in that state ...
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    for 11 months.
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    Why such distrust?
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    Well, it was 2003.
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    It was two years after 9/11.
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    And they were convinced that the West,
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    and particularly the United States,
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    was at war with Muslims.
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    And they knew that the West,
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    and particularly the United States,
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    was a huge supporter --
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    and funder --
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    of the global polio
    eradication initiative.
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    They had their reasoning.
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    That lack of trust,
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    that "just a rumor or two"
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    cost the polio eradication program
    500 million dollars
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    to reset the clock,
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    to regain the progress lost
    during those 11 months
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    and beyond.
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    The Nigerian strain of the polio virus
    traveled to over 20 countries,
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    as far as Indonesia.
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    The cost of a rumor.
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    The Nigeria episode was one
    of many episodes that I investigated
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    when I was with UNICEF
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    and earned the title of the "director
    of UNICEF's fire department."
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    (Laughs)
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    We -- at that point I realized
    I never really had enough time.
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    I was too busy putting out the fires,
    and not enough time to understand
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    what was driving
    not just the individual episodes,
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    but why was there an epidemic
    of these happening around the world.
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    I left UNICEF and went back to research --
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    applied research --
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    and I set up in 2010 what I called
    the Vaccine Confidence Project
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    at the London School of Hygiene
    and Tropical Medicine.
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    I convened anthropologists,
    epidemiologists,
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    psychologists,
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    digital media specialists
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    and mathematical modelers.
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    We set ourselves the task
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    to investigate historic episodes of rumors
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    and their impacts,
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    from trying to figure out
    what were the early signals,
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    what were the amplifying factors
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    and the impacts,
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    how did they get traction,
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    so we could start to understand
    what we should be looking for,
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    how we could help governments
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    and immunization programs
    be more alert and responsive
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    to early signals of problems.
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    It was an early warning system.
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    In 2015, we developed
    a vaccine confidence index.
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    It's a survey trying to investigate
    to what extent do people agree
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    or disagree that vaccines are important,
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    they're safe, they're effective --
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    they work --
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    and somehow they're compatible
    with my religious beliefs.
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    We've run this with over hundreds
    of thousands of people around the world,
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    trying to get our finger on the pulse
    of confidence and trust,
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    but also, more importantly, looking
    at when that trust goes up or down,
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    because we want to see
    when it starts to decline,
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    that's the time to jump in,
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    to get there before there's a crisis
    like the Nigerian one.
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    We also set up 24-7 media and social media
    monitoring around the world --
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    multilanguage --
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    listening for what's going on
    in vaccine conversations,
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    trying to pick up early concerns
    or changes in sentiment
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    that we should be paying attention to.
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    We've created an ecosystem
    of different types of information
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    to try to understand:
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    what are the public thinking
    and how can we engage?
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    We look for early signals.
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    When we find one,
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    we have a global network of collaborators
    in a number of countries
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    who have more local
    intelligence in that setting
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    to try to understand --
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    is this signal misinformation,
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    or is something brewing
    that we should know about?
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    In London, we have a bigger picture.
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    We watch the swarms of rumors
    not just traveling locally
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    but jumping countries.
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    We've seen them jump
    from Japan over to Columbia,
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    through Europe and around.
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    They move.
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    We live in a hyperconnected environment.
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    One of the things
    that we found fascinating,
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    and we've learned
    a lot in the last 10 years --
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    this is our 10th anniversary,
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    this didn't start yesterday,
    this rumor problem --
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    and one of the things we've learned
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    is in our global monitoring,
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    that Europe is the most
    skeptical region in the world.
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    France won the prize, actually.
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    (Laughter)
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    By far.
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    And actually some of those rumors
    have traveled to other parts of the world.
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    But we were trying to understand Europe.
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    Hmm. Why Europe?
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    I thought the US was really --
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    had some of the most skepticism,
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    but boy, I was wrong.
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    And a political scientist,
    a colleague we work with,
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    Jon Kennedy,
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    he took our data
    from 28 European countries
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    and he looked at it
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    and correlated it
    with political opinion polling.
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    And what did he find?
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    He found that people who are most likely
    to vote for a populist party
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    also were the ones most likely
    to strongly disagree
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    that vaccines were important,
    safe or effective.
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    What did we learn?
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    Vaccines cannot escape
    the political and social turbulence
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    that surrounds it.
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    Scientists were unprepared
    for this tsunami of doubt
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    and questions and distrust.
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    What -- why are vaccines
    so ripe for resistance?
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    Well, we identified a number of things,
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    but one:
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    they're highly mediated by government
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    that requires, regulates
    and sometimes recommends vaccines --
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    or often recommends
    and sometimes requires.
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    Big business makes vaccines,
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    and neither institution,
    government or big business,
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    are high in the trust ranks these days.
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    And then there's scientists
    who discover and develop vaccines,
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    and they're pretty elite
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    and not accessible to the general public,
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    at least the language they speak.
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    Third, we're in a hyperconnected
    environment with social media these days,
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    and people can share
    their unfettered views,
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    concerns, anxieties and worries
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    and find a lot of people
    that think the way they do,
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    and think maybe their worries
    are worth paying attention to.
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    And finally,
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    vaccines touch every single
    life on the planet.
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    What other health intervention,
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    besides water,
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    touches every single life?
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    So if you're looking
    for something to disrupt,
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    it's a perfect stage.
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    Perhaps that's one of the reasons
    that we need to pay more attention
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    and rebuild our trust in issues.
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    People are asking all kinds of questions.
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    They're asking,
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    why are vaccines --
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    and these are the kinds of things
    we're hearing in our social media --
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    why can't my child have
    a personalized vaccination schedule?
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    What's the wisdom of so many vaccines?
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    What about all those ingredients
    and preservatives?
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    These are not crazy people,
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    they're not uneducated;
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    they're actually worried mothers.
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    But some of them have come to me
    and said, "We feel ignored,
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    we feel judged if we ask a question,
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    and we even feel demonized
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    that maybe we're part of some
    antivaccine group."
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    So we have some listening to do.
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    And maybe that's why last year,
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    there was research that found
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    that in six months in 2019,
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    online --
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    this was with hundreds --
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    100 million different users
    on social media --
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    although the numbers of individuals
    who expressed in their online groups,
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    they were positive,
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    as groups,
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    the ones who were the most negative
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    were recruiting
    the conversations in the middle
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    that were undecided about whether
    they wanted to get vaccines.
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    The highly negative --
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    what we might call
    the antivaccine groups --
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    were recruiting the undecided
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    at a rate 500 percent faster
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    than the provaccine groups.
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    500 percent faster.
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    They were more nimble,
    they were responsive
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    and they were listening.
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    Most people believe that vaccines are good
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    and they believe in their importance.
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    But that belief is under attack.
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    We need to build in
    more opportunities for conversation.
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    And there are ways to do it.
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    It's not easy for some
    health professionals
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    to have conversations
    where their authority is questioned.
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    It's uncomfortable.
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    And they're just too busy
    to listen to all these questions.
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    But we need to do something about that
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    because we're losing
    a lot of concerned parents
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    that just want a conversation.
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    We should get volunteers
    trained to sit in waiting rooms,
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    to be on hotlines,
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    to have online chat forums,
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    to have chat boxes.
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    In younger kids,
    with younger kids in school,
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    teach them about immune systems
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    and teach them that actually,
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    you know that vaccine
    your little brother got?
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    Well, it just inspired
    your natural immune system.
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    It's a great thing and this is why.
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    We need to build that confidence;
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    we need to listen.
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    Despite all this questioning --
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    and there's a lot of it --
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    I hear probably more
    than a lot of people --
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    I am an optimist.
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    And my optimism
    is with a younger generation.
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    The younger generation
    who actually now are becoming very aware
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    of the risks of social media,
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    the false news,
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    the false identities,
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    and they're starting to embrace science.
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    And some of them are a group of children
    whose mothers refused to vaccinate them.
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    Last spring of 2019,
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    18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger
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    went on Reddit and put out a post.
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    "My mother doesn't believe in vaccines.
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    She's really worried they cause autism.
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    In fact, she strongly believes that.
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    But I'm 18.
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    I'm a senior in high school.
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    I can drive a car, I can vote
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    and I could go get my own vaccine.
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    Can someone tell me where to get it?"
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    That post went viral.
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    It started to get
    a whole younger movement going.
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    I saw Ethan speak at a conference,
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    the Global Vaccine Summit
    at the EU last fall.
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    He spoke eloquently,
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    and I was impressed,
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    in front of a whole forum.
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    He told his personal story,
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    and then he said to the group,
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    he said, "You know, everybody
    talks about misinformation,
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    but I want to tell you about
    a different kind of misinformation,
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    and that's misinformation
    that says that people like my mother,
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    who is a loving mother,
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    is a bad person because
    she doesn't give me vaccines.
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    Well, I want to tell all of you
    that she didn't give me a vaccine
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    because she loves me
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    and because she believed
    that that was the best thing for me.
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    I think differently
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    and I will never change her mind,
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    but she's not a bad person."
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    That was the message from a teenager.
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    Empathy, kindness and understanding.
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    We have an abundance
    of scientific information
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    to debunk false rumors.
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    That's not our problem.
  • 15:02 - 15:04
    We have a relationship problem,
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    not a misinformation problem.
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    Misinformation is the symptom,
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    not the cause.
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    If people trust,
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    they'll put up with a little risk
    to avert a much bigger one.
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    The one thing that I want and I hope for
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    is that we as a medical
    and health community
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    have the moral courage and humility
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    to productively engage,
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    like Ethan,
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    with those who disagree with us.
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    I hope so.
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause and cheers)
Cím:
Why rumors about vaccines spread -- and how to rebuild trust
Speaker:
Heidi Larson
Leírás:

more » « less
Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Projekt:
TEDTalks
Duration:
15:54

English subtitles

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