Parents’ attitudes towards Strep A, a study has revealed, suggests a range of misinformation narratives are still at play. This means one thing for certain: more comms challenges lay ahead.
Currently, the ground is fertile for disinformation narratives. 32% of parents think COVID-19 and flu vaccines are partly responsible for an increase in Strep A infections. Additionally, research found a further 49% are still unsure whether there’s a link between flu vaccines and Strep A.
In order to identify what information about Strep A is reaching parents, Lynn’s B-Sci and Misinfo teams conducted a survey. 626 parents across the UK took part, disclosing what they knew about Strep-A; we assessed the accuracy of those perceptions.
The survey found that 28% of parents are not only sceptical about Strep A, but believe it to be a distractor being used to cover up a larger issue.
Immigration is also being blamed for the rise in infections. In fact, 33% of respondents thought increasing migration and refugee numbers are responsible for the spread.
A fertile environment
Lynn Group said high levels of awareness and nervousness about Strep A have created an environment that is “ripe to perpetuate harmful misinformation”. Indeed, only 3% of parents surveyed were found to be unaware of increasing infections.
“There is a large amount of understandable anxiety among UK parents about Strep A,” said Stefan Rollnick, head of Lynn’s Misinformation Cell. “It’s important that we understand parents’ fears and questions, and don’t demonise them.”
“Health authorities around the country are working desperately to get accurate information out to parents as soon as they can. This is absolutely vital if we are going to build up their resilience. Disinformation swindlers are always looking to use any opportunity to spread conspiracy theories and division; Strep A is no different.”
Shayoni Lynn, chief executive and founder of Lynn added to this, stating, “We, at Lynn, know that getting the right information out at the right time, in the right way, is vital.” She went on to say, “We could be facing not just a health crisis but a confidence crisis in our healthcare system also – which, coming off the back of COVID-19, is not something we believe anyone wishes to perpetuate”.
Only 15 per cent of the parents surveyed disagreed with the belief that COVID-19 lockdowns harmed their child’s immune system. Clearly, misinformation on vaccinations is rife. And worse, it’s working.
The pandemic saw a uptick of conspiracy theories surrounding vaccinations. From Covid, to Monkeypox, and now Strep-A. It begs the question: how many lives will vaccination misinformation cost in the next crisis?