Deliberate vaccine misinformation should be held to account - but better information is essential

We must work harder to inoculate the public against disinformation

Social media platforms and those spreading deliberate vaccine misinformation should be held accountable and potentially face criminal sanctions, says Professor Melinda Mills, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford. But concerned members of the public who unknowingly ‘retweet’ anti-vaxx messages should not be criminalised, says Professor Mills; concern and hesitancy must be tackled and public trust won.

Professor Mills writes in the BMJ, ‘The deliberate intent to spread malicious vaccine disinformation, resulting in preventable deaths, should be considered criminal. If it is from people in positions of authority, regulatory bodies need to investigate and potentially suspend or bar those who intentionally spread harmful disinformation.’

‘But,’ she adds. ‘Criminalisation is not the ‘silver bullet’ to tackling vaccine hesitancy and gaining public trust. ... We have to work harder to fill the knowledge void and inoculate the public against disinformation.'

Read Professor Mills' full Head to Head in the BMJ

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