Social media post about Kentucky pertussis outbreak receives anti-vaccine backlash

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams shared a social media post using the pertussis outbreak in Kentucky to illustrate the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Some social media users who commented on the post argued that practices such as covering coughs and taking vitamins are sufficient to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Others questioned the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Recommendation: Trending conversations about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases provide an opportunity to recirculate existing content about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Messaging may emphasize that experts attribute infectious disease outbreaks to low vaccination rates, which jeopardize herd immunity. Explaining that all vaccines are rigorously tested using strict safety standards before becoming available to the public is recommended. Community-based organizations and other partners in Kentucky may focus on explaining the importance of whooping cough vaccines. Messaging may emphasize that pertussis, or whooping cough, is one of many highly contagious vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause severe illness and death, especially in children. Vaccination remains our best protection against diseases like whooping cough.