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February 15, 2019

Facebook may take steps to limit the amount of anti-vaccine information users can share on the platform, reports Bloomberg.

The company announced it would look into the issue after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) penned a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday requesting information on steps the company is taking to prevent the spread of disinformation regarding vaccines. The letter highlighted the ease with which misinformation can spread on sites like Facebook and Instagram and specifically referenced the exposure to anti-vaccine content on social media.

In Facebook's response, the company said possible fixes could include "reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available," per Bloomberg.

A recent measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest has brought the anti-vaccination debate back into public view. Darla Shine, the wife of President Trump's Communications Director, took to Twitter on Wednesday to cast doubt on the validity of vaccinations, tweeting "Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer." The World Health Organization said that reluctance or refusal to get vaccines is a top threat to global health this year. Read more at Bloomberg. Marianne Dodson

October 25, 2018

The flu killed more Americans last season than any in recorded history — and it's likely because people didn't get vaccinated.

Just 37.1 percent of American adults got a flu vaccine in the 2017-2018 flu season, the lowest rate since 2010-2011, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports released Thursday show. That could be why 49 million people got the disease and a record 79,000 people died from it last season, The Washington Post reported.

Last year's leading flu strain was particularly resistant to vaccines and especially harsh on young and old people. But a 6.2 percent drop in vaccinations from the previous season could've also driven higher death rates, a CDC flu expert tells the Post. The low vaccination rate could've stemmed from reports early in the season that suggested the vaccine wasn't effective, which turned out to be wrong, the expert says.

The CDC started recording flu deaths in the 1970s, and the highest number of deaths before last year was 56,000, in 2012-2013. This year, as always, the CDC is recommending vaccination at the best way to prevent the disease. Check out more recommendations for fighting the flu here. Kathryn Krawczyk

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