Experts are warning the UK could be facing a ‘vaccination timebomb’ as more young parents turn to anti-vaccination sites online.
Research revealed half of parents – including 59 per cent of those under 25 – feel the so-called ‘anti-vaxx’ movement is becoming more influential.
A significant 83 per cent of young mums and dads with children aged five and under – the age when most vaccines are administered – admit reading anti-jab scare stories, compared to 65 per cent of parents overall.
Currently, just over half of parents carry out their own research before deciding whether to vaccinate their child, the study for UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and parenting site ChannelMum.com found.
Worryingly, only 41 per cent trust the current range of official information available, with 15 per cent believing information is ‘promoted by drug companies’.
And one in five actively search out alarmist vaccine stories as part of their research while one in ten has a ‘anti-vaxxer’ friend they discuss immunisations with.
The study also showed young parents are more likely to view anti-vaxx sites (33%) than talk to their midwife (30%) about having their child immunised.
Dr Helen Bedford, Professor of Children’s Health at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “While the majority of parents are happy to vaccinate, the rapid rise of anti-vaccination scares on social media is causing many to now question the need for vaccines.
“Due to a long-standing successful vaccination programme, as a nation we have forgotten the terrible toll these diseases can take on children.
“While the anti-vaccination sites may concentrate on perceived side-effects, they don’t show the real and often life-changing impact of catching a disease we vaccinate for.”
By Ben Gelblum and Gemma Francis