The anti-vaxx movement has gained frightening ground in the last decade.
Thanks to the internet, misinformation surrounding vaccines has spread, leading to a drop in vaccination rates in the US and the UK.
According to a 2019 report, two in five UK parents with children under 18 are exposed to negative messaging about vaccinations online.
And last year, the UK saw its measles-free status revoked after too few people were vaccinated against the disease.
In America, the anti-vaxx movement is more virulent and is causing a serious headache for health authorities trying to combat unsubstantiated rumours and fear-mongering surrounding vaccines.
But now the anti-vaxx movement has been linked to a tragedy.
NBC news reported that a four-year-old boy in Colorado died after contracting flu this week. According to their investigation, his mother had posted in one of the biggest anti-vaccination Facebook groups, asking for advice on how to treat the illness without taking the Tamiflu, the antiviral medication prescribed by their family doctor.
“The doc prescribed tamiflu I did not pick it up,” she wrote, in a now deleted thread.
According to NBC, the woman (whose identity has been reported in other outlets) explained that two out of four of her children had fallen sick.
She said her four year-old – who was later declared brain dead after becoming unconscious at home and being rushed to hospital – had experienced a febrile seizure.
She added she was treating her children with “natural cures,” like peppermint oil and Vitamin C, but that they weren’t working.
Advice given to her by the Facebook group included breastmilk and thyme.
“Perfect, I’ll try that,” she replied.
In 2017, the mother also stated her children were not vaccinated.
Details of her posts began circulating on social media after a GoFundMe was set up to pay for hospital costs following her son’s death.
Confusingly, in a later interview with a local news outlet she implied that the child had been given medicine prescribed by doctors, although it's unclear whether she is referring to the initial Tamiflu prescription or not.
In response to the criticism, the father of the boy has asked people to remember the family is grieving the loss of a child.
“We don’t look at none of it,” he told FOX6 News.
“The negative comments — keep [them] to yourself because at the end of the day, what’s important is that each one of these parents goes home and kisses their kids”.