YouTube and England's NHS join forces to tackle vaccine scepticism

The YouTube app and YouTube Kids app are displayed on an iPhone in New York.
The YouTube app and YouTube Kids app are displayed on an iPhone in New York. Copyright Jenny Kane/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Hebe Campbell
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The social media giant and England's National Health Service have come together in the latest campaign to tackle vaccine scepticism among younger people in the UK.

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England's National Health Service (NHS) has joined forces with YouTube to launch a campaign to counteract vaccine hesitancy among younger generations.

The UK has vaccinated more 36 million people (53% of population) with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data.

The 'Lets Not Go Back' campaign aims to drive credible information towards young people, in order to prepare the nation’s 18-34 year old's, for when they have the jab.

The first of its kind campaign highlights the importance of getting vaccinated in the form of short videos, billboard and bus stop adverts.

The campaign was spurred on by recent data from the ONS, which shows vaccine hesitancy rates are highest in younger people (13% of 16-29s) and almost double the national average in the UK (7%).

In statistics supplied by YouTube, 98% of 18-34 year old's in the UK use the video streaming platform every month.

YouTube's UK Managing Director Ben McOwen Wilson said: "We hope that this light-hearted campaign helps remind everyone that there is one more critical contribution we can all make: by ensuring we have the best information on COVID vaccines and doing our part when our time comes."

Dr Nikki Kanani, UK Managing Director for primary care at NHS England said: “We want to make sure that everyone, including in younger generations, has any barriers removed that may stop them from taking the vaccine when offered."

However, YouTube, among other social networks, has come under immense scrutiny about misinformation surging on their platforms, much of which has undermined the safety of vaccines.

They only started banning false claims about COVID-19 vaccinations in October 2020. YouTube said it has removed more than 30,000 videos since then.

Since February 2020, they say they have removed more than 800,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus pandemic information.

Nevertheless, in December 2020, the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that anti-vaxxers on social media continued to grow through the pandemic, with 147 of the leading accounts gaining 10.1 million followers since 2019, an increase of 25%.

The additional growth took place primarily on Instagram and YouTube, with anti-vaxxers adding an extra 4.3 million followers on each platform.

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