The novel SARS-Cov-2 virus has triggered two parallel pandemics: a biological one that has spread to every country in the world, and a social pandemic of misinformation – an infodemic – spreading across social networks. As Dr Tedros, Director-General of the WHO put it: ‘We're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting and infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than the virus and is just as dangerous.’ Vaccines have been sucked into this vortex of confusing information which ranges from innocently misleading to intentionally deceiving. Vaccine-critical messaging increased more than two-fold compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
This infodemic threatens the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 and new oral polio vaccines as well as potentially undermining routine immunization programmes. To help vaccine advocates, immunisation managers, communication specialists and others, UNICEF has published the Vaccine Misinformation Management Field Guide. Developed in collaboration with the First Draft, the Public Good Projects and Yale Institute for Global Health, it offers an introduction to vaccine misinformation and many actionable recommendations for addressing misinformation and, just as important, the normal vaccine-related questions people may have. The link to the UNICEF Guide is available at https://vaccinemisinformation.guide/#guide