At STAT, a bipartisan message from Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN), California State Senator Richard Pan, M.D. (D), and Max G. Bronstein, founder of the Journal of Science Policy & Governance:
We must also invest in grassroots public outreach campaigns to communities in which vaccine hesitancy and skepticism are prevalent. On social media, false information spreads faster than true information. Coupled with public skepticism of government and public health officials, that poses a big challenge. Heavy-handed, dry, and regulated government messaging won’t be effective in a world where public opinion is ruled by tweets and sound bites. The messaging must be designed specifically for social media and carried by nontraditional messengers, like local and national celebrities, religious leaders, and other influencers with broad reach. These messengers would serve as an important counterpoint to some of the unfounded conspiracy theories that have propagated online. On top of these efforts, social media companies must partner with public health experts to curb the spread of misinformation, expose the falsehoods driving vaccine hesitancy, and stop groups that incite attacks or violence directed at public health officials. Partnering with expert reviewers has been leveraged by Wikipedia via trusted editors. Others have suggested crowdsourcing approaches to help ensure the veracity of online claims. Social media has given us wondrous new, lightning-fast communication tools, and these assets need to drive evidence-based messaging that advances public health and ultimately, helps save lives.