The rumors about the Oxford vaccine seem ridiculous, but they have spread quickly on social media. It also appears regularly in Western anti-tax circles. Some people are really anxious.
“Not much has obviously changed,” says vaccine professor Corinne Vandermeulen (University of Leuven). “In the nineteenth century, people believed that smallpox vaccine would turn them into a cow, and today they are apparently chimpanzees.”
People who turn monkeys or cows: You can laugh about it, after all, it just sounds crazy with words. Professor Heidi Larson, Chair of the Vaccine Trust Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, doesn’t think this is a good idea. Larson recently wrote a book on anti-fax rumors in which she makes clear that it’s best to take these rumors seriously.
You better listen to all of these concerns, Larson says. Don’t laugh at doubts and anxieties. If you do, the problem will only get worse.
Corinne Vandermolen wholeheartedly agrees with this view. “You have to take people very seriously and make sure they feel heard. Otherwise, it will scare them away and they will search for information on the Internet on their own. There is very difficult to distinguish between meaning and nonsense.”
According to Vandermeulen, it is quite natural for people to question the safety of vaccines. “That is why I try to avoid the word ‘anti-vaccination’, because that sounds very negative. Sometimes people are afraid to ask questions, just because they don’t want to be neglected as anti-vaccination.”
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