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Caution must be used when addressing anti-vaxxers as frustrated comments will just drive the very gap we are trying to bridge, says GlobalData

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Following the news that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla called people who spread misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines ‘criminals’,

Emily Martyn, MPH, Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:

“It is understandable that the pharmaceutical industry is frustrated, however, it is important to remember that the unvaccinated community, including anti-vaxxers, are also those who are at most risk. According to a recent study, up to 22% of the US population identify as anti-vaxxers*. Labelling people that spread misinformation as criminals will not help the issue, as these communities do not see misinformation as ‘misinformation’, but as truth. If anything, frustrated comments will further drive the gap that needs to be bridged between anti-vaxxers and the pharmaceutical and healthcare communities.

“When discussing anti-vaxxers and the spread of misinformation, we must be cautious with our language, no matter the language that is used against us. In the age of social media, it is too easy for quotes to be taken out of context. Individuals on the fence about getting a vaccine are looking for excuses not to, and we cannot afford to drive them away.”

* Matt Motta, Timothy Callaghan, Steven Sylvester & Kristin Lunz-Trujillo (2021) Identifying the prevalence, correlates, and policy consequences of anti-vaccine social identity, Politics, Groups, and Identities, DOI: 10.1080/21565503.2021.1932528

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