RUSSIAN intelligence officials have been accused of spreading anti-vaccine propaganda in the West – as President Trump urges parents to “get your kids shots” amid a deadly measles outbreak.
Whitehall sources last night claimed the Kremlin has been using social media to spread fake news about the jabs, sparking a dangerous decline in the number of children having them.
Instagram accounts with thousands of followers promise the “truth” about vaccinations amid a stream of fake claims linking jabs to autism and cancer.
On Monday Health Secretary Matt Hancock will challenge social media giants to tackle fake news or face legislation.
He is worried there is too much complacency over the possibility of Russian involvement.
An insider told the Daily Mail: “There is evidence of Russian involvement in this.
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“It is not clear exactly what the motive is but it fits with a pattern of Russia trying to destabilise Western democracies by spreading disinformation.
“It is a source of concern and it is something that is being looked at.”
Donald Trump today urged Americans to “get their shots” as a measles outbreak swept across the USA.
Trump – who previously linked vaccines and autism – added: “the vaccinations are so important.”
More than half a million children in the UK missed out on the vaccine between 2010 and 2017, the children’s charity Unicef says.
Health officials have been asked to examine an American study last year that suggested
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Russian internet trolls were spreading disinformation about vaccines. Mr Hancock added: “Vaccination is safe, it’s very, very important for public health – for everybody’s health – and we’re going to tackle it.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, added: “Of all the fake health news out there, anti-vaccination propaganda is among the most damaging for our patients’ health and the health of society.”
Facebook said it would take action against any verifiable vaccine hoaxes.
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