CHENNAI: How do you counter a ‘fake news’ campaign on social media? Burnt by the persistent whisper campaign that has severely hampered the ongoing Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination drive, the State health department has figured that the best antidote is perhaps counter tweets.
With Tamil Nadu, which prides about the advances made in the healthcare sector, recording poor coverage, the department released short videos that seek to dispel the propaganda that’s ruining the efforts.
“Of the 1.76 crore children between the age of 9 months and 15 years who need to get the vaccine, only about 90 lakh have received the vaccine,” said health minister C Vijayabaskar, blaming the rumours for grounding the implementation of universal immunisation programme (UIP) against MR.
There are traditional modes of campaigns like pamphlet distribution, deploying vans with speakers to play advisories, and advertisements at theatres and television. As the campaign against the vaccine has also been on the digital, social media and messaging services like WhatsApp, where alarming text accompanied by disturbing photographs of children warn parents against the vaccine.
“The problem with these platforms is that the numbers get amplified and blown out of proportion, without any reality check,” said Dr G Thamaraiselvi, joint director of the drive.