Confronting ‘Emotional Contagion’

Flu-related deaths topped 80,000 in the US last winter, but “people still discount their risks of disease” writes Heidi J. Larson. The vaccine mistrust looks set to spur the next pandemic, undermining the available preventive measures.

As director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, which tracks vaccine suspicion from several angles, Larson notes that misinformation comes in many forms. The worst is bad science by medical professionals, followed by those who use the divisive issue to market products and spur political polarization, such as Russian trolls.

This “emotional contagion” of misinformation should be treated as a public health threat, Larson writes.

Nature (Commentary)

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