D25 - Hot Topic: Vaccines demystification in the era of ‘fake news’

Conference Hall A - Section A

FIP Congress Programme Committee


Lisa Nissen (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)


Good health for all starts with immunisation. Following the decade’s lowest number of infectious cases in 2016, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in infections and extended outbreaks. In 2018, the global number of cases of measles rise 30%. In Europe alone, there were 64,946 measles cases between November 2017 and October 2018 – over twice the figure for the whole of 2017. This is concerning, given that the complications of diseases such as measles can even lead to death. Yet it is a vaccine-preventable disease. Worldwide, more than 3 million people (half of them are children less than 5 years old) die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.

The misinformation about vaccinations is a concern, given the “fake news” on the Internet may be fuelling public concern about potential side effects of vaccination and could restrict uptake. Parents are often exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media. The infamous case of claims of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been extensively investigated and found to be false, yet continues to contribute to anti-vaccination propaganda despite being refuted.

Broad, context-appropriate measures are needed to increase vaccination uptake. Pharmacists’ role in vaccination is not only about administering vaccines. The overall role of pharmacists as with nurses and physicians, lies in providing routine vaccinations in community pharmacies, schools, surgeries and other venues and actively serving as public health educators, embedding vaccinations as part of overall patient care. How to communicate with worried parents about vaccine’s benefits versus potential risks? How to navigate in the disinformation era of “fake news” and social media? This session will also provide insights on how pharmacists can refute claims of anti-vaccinationists.




Lily Parsey (International Longevity Center, UK)

Mitch Rothholz (American Pharmacists’ Association, USA)

Caterina Suitner (University of Padova, Italy)

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Judge why misinformation about vaccinations is a concern
  2. Formulate advice for worried parents about vaccine’s benefits versus potential risks
  3. Dispute claims of anti-vaccinationists
  4. Analyse roles of pharmacists in vaccination beyond administering vaccines.

Type of session: Application-based