Anti-vaccination: How TECHNOLOGY is key to solving poor vaccination rates

The ‘anti-vax’ movement is prompting poor vaccination rates around the world, specifically in children and the elderly. Some 15,000 to 70,000 deaths are caused by seasonal influenza each year, which is bolstered by people who refuse to vaccinate. As more people hesitate, the more elderly people are at risk of exposure to diseases which could kill them. A recent report published by the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC) has highlighted the importance of technology in reducing vaccine hesitancy.

The paper ‘Data, bots and drones’ was published by the ILC during World Immunisation Week, and outlines how technology could “break barriers”.

Experts from NGOs, policymakers and healthcare professionals worked together on recommendations for carrying vaccination rates via new advances.

They suggested using a number of platforms to combat the problem of anti-vaccination, including using Instagram influencers, Siri, Google Home and wearables to promote easy appointment booking and alerts.

Together, the group called on the EU to make a number of changes which directly address dipping vaccination rates.

The group made the following recommendations to European policymakers:

– Develop a specific funding programme on “what works” to ensure that policy and financial investment in technology delivers its potential.

– Legislate to ensure that products and services are accessible and usable for all ages and abilities.

– Recognise the challenges of demographic change and ageing populations and ensure policy supports vaccination as important across our lives.

Doctor Jane Barratt, Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing, said technology would be vital in tackling “ageism” in adult healthcare.

She said: “Applied technology is undoubtedly a game changer in helping to create enabling environments that can support important personal health decisions by people of all ages, and especially older people.

“The ILC report highlights important innovations across the world that deserve serious attention in the charge to improve uptake rates of adult vaccination and drive a life course approach to immunisation.

“At the heart of this report and global conversation is the subtle yet powerful ability of technology to combat ageism and age discrimination so the narrative around older people spins from burden to contribution.”

Michael Greenberg, Head of Global Medical Strategy at pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, believes the move is “common sense”.

He said: “Using technology to find better ways to improve immunisation coverage among adults is just common sense.

“In our work with Google, we see that machine learning can help understand drivers and barriers to vaccination.

“Wearable data, such as from fitness trackers, can provide insights on the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases.”

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