Anti-vaccination Messages From People Misinformed on Social Media Turn Into Doctors Being Threatened In Person


Doctors and family physicians now worry that the anti-vaccination groups have gone from spreading misinformation on social media to threatening them in person, and even sending email that include threats of killing.

Canadian doctors say that the anti-vaccination battle against the public health campaigns that began with the measles outbreaks has spread to more than furious comments on social media:

“Patients have come in and told me that they can’t believe I would deliberately poison my children,” wrote Dr. Anna Wolak, a family physician in Vancouver to CBC News. She talked on social media about vaccines and how important they are, and even though some were supportive of her stance, some people threatened her:

“Some of those have threatened to report me to the [provincial regulatory] college because they consider me a threat to children.”

Misinformation on Social Media Keeps On Being Spread

Most of the anti-vaccination groups promote the research paper from the 1990s which was debunked years ago, and the author even lost his medical license. He suggested that vaccines might cause autism and other adverse reactions. Adverse reactions can happen, but they have been proven to be extremely rare.

Meanwhile, doctors worry that these hateful comments will turn into overt threats. Take for example the case of a doctor in Eastern Canada and one in Toronto. The two doctors received hundreds of emails that harassed and threatened them, and 200 of them were from the same email address.

According to CBC News who didn’t disclose the identities of the doctors, one of the emails that were sent to the two doctors said:

“Come at my son with another vaccine and I WILL make sure you NEVER support vaccines EVER AGAIN! This email isn’t even CLOSE TO LISTENING TO ME IN PERSON!”

“Signed, A Momma With Claws OUT!”

The doctor from Eastern Canada also received voicemails which appear to include “threats of killing and dismemberment.”

Although the doctor has received such emails in the past, they ignored them, but these threats were different, adding that they only stand up for what science is and cannot change it:

“To be unable to stand up and tell what the science is and not have somebody threaten you in a very nasty way is deeply unpleasant.”

The doctors reported the threats to the police, and the IP addresses for the emails were found to be from the U.S., where there are many more anti-vaccination groups than in Canada.

Standing Up to Deliver Correct Information

Unfortunately, the groups’ goal to shut up doctors seems to work, explained the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit:

“There are a number of people who choose not to stand up in this arena because they know that it means that they’re going to be personally targeted.” 

However, he warns that not vaccinating the children against preventable diseases like measles could lead to children dying again.

Unfortunately, many parents come to physicians with incorrect information and are confused about the risks and benefits of the vaccines, added family physician in Georgetown, Ont, Dr. Nadia Alam (president of the Ontario Medical Association). Alam concluded that the measles could make a return just like it happened in Europe as vaccination rates decreased:

“Easily we could end up in the same boat.”


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