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Social media to blame for vaccine ‘misinformation’

A report has revealed the extent to which social media is to blame for spreading misinformation about vaccinations.




Over a quarter of people incorrectly believe you can have too many vaccinations.

A report, published today by The Royal Society of Public Health, has revealed the extent to which social media is to blame for spreading misinformation about vaccinations.

The Moving the Needle report shows that while attitudes to vaccines in general were largely positive, social media was found to fuel misinformation about the potential side effects of vaccines and their links to conditions such as autism.


Highlighting a low understanding of key concepts of vaccination, the report reveals that over a quarter of people incorrectly believe you can have too many vaccinations with two in five parents saying they are regularly exposed to negative or incorrect messages about vaccines on social media.

Other barriers to vaccination discovered include; the timing, availability and location of appointments.

‘Fake news’.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH said: “Vaccinations are one of the most powerful tools we have for protecting and improving the public’s health, saving millions of lives every year across the globe. The value of vaccinations throughout life should not be underestimated. 

In the UK, we are fortunate to have a fantastic, world-leading vaccination programme, with excellent levels of coverage. However, we should never be complacent: history has taught us that fear and misinformation about vaccines can cause substantial damage to even the strongest vaccination programmes. 

With the rise of social media, we must guard against the spread of ‘fake news’ about vaccinations. We have found worrying levels of exposure to negative messages about vaccinations on social media, and the spread of misinformation – if it impacts uptake of vaccines – could severely damage the public’s health. 

It is 21 years since Andrew Wakefield published his infamous and now widely discredited paper on an alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and Europe is still living with the consequences – as we have seen with the resurgence in measles rates in recent years. In the 21st Century it would be unacceptable to allow vaccine-preventable diseases to make a comeback, and it is vital we do all we can to ensure the UK maintains its status as a global leader in vaccination.”

RSPH is calling for a multi-pronged approach to improving and maintaining uptake of vaccinations in the UK which includes tackling ‘fake news’.

Trust in healthcare professionals.

The report also revealed that trust in healthcare professionals remains high, with doctors and nurses consistently highly valued as a source of information about vaccines

Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Challenging misinformation is vital to reverse the decline in vaccination uptake and ensure people recognise the protection it offers. It’s reassuring that trust in nurses as a source of reliable information on vaccines remains high, and the RCN’s own myth-busting Beat the Flu campaign has reached more than 1.5 million people since it launched in October last year. But respected authorities need to do more to tackle misleading and dangerous narratives that put all of us at risk.”

“In 2017 Britain was declared free of endemic measles, with just 259 lab confirmed cases. But last year saw 913 confirmed cases of this potentially fatal yet entirely preventable disease – a three-fold increase. This has been exacerbated by myths propagated largely online.

“Similarly, flu vaccination coverage over the 2017/2018 season was the lowest it has been since 2011, and last year saw a serious flu outbreak. This year the rates are lower, but still a cause for concern.”


Clinical Care

Hourly rounding ‘may not be the best way for nurses to deliver care’, finds study

Hourly rounding places an emphasis on ‘tick box’ care.



Nurse with patient in bed

Hourly rounding made a minor contribution, if at all, to the way nurses engage with patients.

A new report by researchers at King’s College London has found that the widespread practice of hourly or intentional rounding, may not be the best way for nurses to deliver care to patients.

The report also found that rounding makes a minor contribution, if at all, to the way nurses engage with patients.


Hourly or intentional rounding involves standardised regular checks with individual patients at set intervals and was introduced in hospitals in England in 2013, with 97% of NHS acute Trusts in England implementing it in some way.

The majority of NHS trusts adopted the ‘4Ps’ (Position, Pain, Personal needs, Placement of items) model of rounding.

The research was commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and was led by Professor Ruth Harris in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.

Hourly rounding places an emphasis on ‘tick box’ care.

The NIHR report – Intentional rounding in hospital wards to improve regular interaction and engagement between nurses and patients: a realist evaluation – is the first study of its kind in the world.

The study found that rounding placed an emphasis on transactional ‘tick box’ care delivery, rather than individualised care. However, patients were found to value their interactions with nursing staff, which the study argues could be delivered during other care activities and rather than through intentional rounding.

The report also found that rounding was implemented without consultation, careful planning and piloting in the interests of political expediency following the Francis Inquiry Report into care failures in the NHS.

Ruth Harris, Professor of Health Care for Older Adults at King’s College London, said; “Checking patients regularly to make sure that they are OK is really important but intentional rounding tends to prompt nurses to focus on completion of the rounding documentation rather than on the relational aspects of care delivery.

“Few frontline nursing staff or senior nursing staff felt intentional rounding improved either the quality or the frequency of their interactions with patients and their family.”

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Clinical Updates

Nurses’ ‘worry’ better than most early warning scores, finds study

Nurses were asked to grade patients between ‘no concern’ and ‘extreme concern’. 




A sense of worry can provide important information for the detection of acute physiological deterioration.

Nurses’ worry has a “higher accuracy” than most published early warning scores (EWS) at predicting if a patient is becoming more unwell, according to a recent study.

The study looked at 31,159 patient-shifts for 3185 patients during 3551 hospitalisations across two surgical and two medical wards. Researchers compared if the nurses were worried about a patients potential for deterioration using ‘the Worry Factor’ with early warning score indicators.


Nurses were asked to grade each patient between “no concern” and “extreme concern”.

The Worry Score

Out of 492 potential deterioration events identified, researchers found that when nurses had an increasing worry factor the patient was more likely to require emergency medical treatment – 7 cardiac arrest calls, 86 medical emergency calls and 76 transfers to the intensive care unit.

The study also revealed that accuracy rates were significantly higher in nurses with over a year of experience.

The researchers concluded that “nurses’ pattern recognition and sense of worry can provide important information for the detection of acute physiological deterioration” and was often more reliable than traditional early warning systems.

They also noted that the worry score could be used alone or easily incorporated into existing EWS to potentially improve their performance.

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