It is hoped five million will be given by Christmas, with residents and staff in care homes for the elderly being first in line, and those aged over 80, along with health and care workers, being on the second priority level.
However, for a small minority this is less good news. The anti-vaxxer community has been out in force, tweeting up a storm about the vaccines, even spreading baseless conspiracy theories about how they’re all a mind-control tactic.
Anti-vaxxer mentality is nothing new. For decades there has been a worryingly popular movement against vaccinations, spearheaded by a 1998 paper published in medical journal The Lancet, in which Andrew Wakefield argued there was a link between the MMR vaccine given to children and autism diagnoses.
The paper was subsequently discredited and retracted, but sadly the myth that vaccinations are somehow bad has prevailed. An outbreak of measles in the US has been tied to anti-vax ideology.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure misinformation about vaccines is being shut down at every possible opportunity.
Over on Reddit, someone asked doctors to weigh in with their stories of dealing with anti-vaxxers, and one in particular has gone viral for its genius use of conspiracy theories against someone prone to believing in them.
You can read the anecdote in full here, but basically a medical student who was working in the paediatrics unit encountered an anti-vaxxer described as a “conspiracy theory magnet”. The woman apparently listed a number of such theories she believed in, before implying she would not be vaccinating her one-year-old child.
The writer explains they recounted this to the attending physician, who listened patiently while the woman listed “about 15 reasons why vaccines are more dangerous than the disease they protect against, in addition to the various evils of the pharmaceutical industry”.
When she was finished, the doctor apparently replied:
“Have you considered the possibility that anti-vaccine propaganda could be an attempt by the Russians or the Chinese to weaken the health of the United States population?”
We should highlight that there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest this is at all true, but playing a conspiracy theorist at their own game seemed to work.
According to the author of the post, she ended up agreeing to the vaccines. The poster says: “In a moment of catastrophic cognitive dissonance, I swear I heard a strange noise as her brain misfired. It actually broke her. The allure of the increasingly ridiculous conspiracy theory was just too strong.”
We’re not entirely sure what we make of this strategy, but at least there’s one more vaccinated child out there, and surely that can’t be a bad thing…