[D]octors, public health experts and misinformation researchers are anticipating a flood of anti-vaccine propaganda featuring younger children following last week’s vote by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech’s lower-dose Covid vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended the Covid vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds on Tuesday. CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the approval later in the evening, opening the door for more than 28 million children to start receiving vaccinations on Wednesday morning.
...“Anti-vaccine groups often distort mainstream news coverage and official statistics about adverse events like unexplained deaths and side effects caused from receiving the vaccine, omitting important context and reframing isolated incidents as evidence of widespread harm,” the Virality Project reported in March. “Unverifiable personal stories of adverse reactions will proliferate; these stories have been leveraged for years in childhood vaccine misinformation, and have strong emotional appeal.”
...“This is going to look a lot like the mid-2000s autism vaccine wars,” said Karen Ernst, executive director of Voices for Vaccines, a national nonprofit group that advocates for vaccination.
“It was framed as a good versus evil battle,” she said, recalling the outcry from parents like Jenny McCarthy, who, misled by now-discredited research by Andrew Wakefield, believed that the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccines caused autism. “On one side were the mama bears, the warrior moms, who would fight for their children. They were fighting against ‘the evils of Big Pharma who were clearly trying to damage and destroy their children with autism.’ We’re seeing the same moral battle play out that there are forces trying to harm children with a Covid shot now.”
“There are zero social media platforms,” she added, “that are prepared for what’s about to happen.”