The dangers of vaccine misinformation: Robert F Kennedy Jr

Recently, you may have read about Robert F Kennedy Jr’s anti-vaccine views after he was featured on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Robert F Kennedy Jr is a long-time promoter of vaccine misinformation.

A recent report from the MSNBC news network in the United States demonstrates the real-world dangers of vaccine misinformation.

The report examines how the 2019 measles epidemic in Samoa was linked to Robert F Kennedy’s statements on the measles vaccine. Robert F Kennedy Jr's anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense bolstered a local Samoan anti-vaccine movement which had emerged in response to the 2018 deaths of two children after vaccine administration errors. The anti-vaccine movement misrepresented the vaccine itself as the cause of death, leading to a significant decrease in vaccination rates.

Not only did vaccine misinformation contribute to the devastating measles epidemic, but it also overshadowed important discussions relating to vaccine errors.

Nurse and educator Jessica Stokes-Parish has written Vaccine Concerns & SciComm: An Analysis about the scientific community’s reaction to Robert F Kennedy Jr. From a science communications lens, she analyses some common strategies that may be intended to discredit misinformation but fail to engage and educate the general public.

MVEC on Instagram: Ask a vaccine expert

MVEC has recently started a new series of videos on social media: Ask a vaccine expert.

In addition to sharing information on our website and newsletter, MVEC regularly posts vaccine information on Instagram and Twitter @mvecau and our Facebook page Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre – MVEC.

Our new series of short videos features different vaccine experts responding to questions sent in by our followers. For example, MVEC director Prof Nigel Crawford recently answered audience questions on COVID-19 vaccines. To watch these videos and send in your own questions, follow our Instagram page.

In addition to short videos, our social media pages offer easy-to-read explanations and summaries on a range of vaccine-related topics, highlight interesting news articles and provide relevant updates from trusted sources.

New England Journal of Medicine Interview: What to expect from Covid-19 vaccines

In this New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) audio interview, virologist and immunologist Dr Barney Graham discusses structural biology and the future of COVID-19, RSV and other vaccines.  

Dr Graham was at the forefront of vaccine development for COVID-19 and has a background studying RSV. In this interview, he reflects on his work with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) and emphasises the importance of education for improving vaccine uptake. 

NEJM Audio interview with Barney Graham 

MVEC holiday period closure

On behalf of the MVEC Team, we wish you a very happy and safe holiday season with your loved ones.  

Our team will be taking a break and will return in February to provide you with more vaccine education, resources and events in 2023. We'd love to hear from you if there are any specific vaccine topics you would like to see covered next year! 

We also want to say a huge thank you to all our amazing collaborators who have kindly shared their expert knowledge across a number of important vaccine topics and across all of the MVEC platforms this year! 

If you’re travelling this holiday season, stay safe, make sure your vaccines are up to date and pack your sunscreen and insect repellent! 

The Conversation: COVID vaccines for children under 5 are almost here. Here’s what parents need to know

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved a paediatric dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children aged from six months.  

MVEC’s Dr Daryl Cheng, along with A/Prof Margie Danchin, explore what parents need to know ahead of Australia’s rollout of the Moderna vaccine in this cohort, including the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and the benefits and implications of vaccinating this age group in this article.  

To read the article in full, please click on the link below:
The Conversation: COVID vaccines for children under 5 are almost here. Here’s what parents need to know 

ABC: A surge in influenza cases in Queensland prompts doctors to issue vaccine warning for children and vulnerable groups

Experts warn that children are increasingly more vulnerable to influenza disease this year. MVEC’s paediatric infectious disease specialist Dr Angela Berkhout explains that children, particularly those under two years of age have low levels of natural immunity to flu as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  

While flu season has yet to peak, hospitals in Queensland have already experienced an influx in the number of flu patients requiring hospital admission, including intensive care. This article explores key considerations for vaccinating children, seniors over the age of 65 years and other vulnerable groups.  

To read the full article, follow the link below:  

ABC: A surge in influenza cases in Queensland prompts doctors to issue vaccine warning for children and vulnerable groups

For the more information on influenza vaccines and the 2022 influenza season please see our resources below: 

MVEC: Influenza 

MVEC: Influenza FAQs


NCIRS Webinar - Living with COVID-19: Getting back to immunisation business as usual

NCIRS will be hosting a webinar on Thursday 3 March featuring a panel of expert speakers including MVEC’s A/Prof Nigel Crawford. The topic for the webinar is Living with COVID-19: Getting back to immunisation business as usual and will cover: 

  • an update on Australian COVID‑19 vaccine recommendations 
  • COVID-19 and routine immunisation programs regionally and globally – what’s needed 
  • new COVID-19 vaccines – do we need to change our strategy in response to new variants? 

Further information and details on registration can be found via the link below:
NCIRS Webinar -  Living with COVID-19: Getting back to immunisation business as usual

MVEC animation: The Road to a COVID-19 Vaccine

With Australia looking towards a COVID-19 vaccine program beginning in early 2021, MVEC have created the following animation for sharing with a wider audience, to help explain the process of developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine in a compressed timeframe.

For more information on the vaccine development process please refer to our immunisation reference page here.

For information on the provisional vaccine registration pathway in Australia please refer to our reference page here.

Contain This: A new podcast by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security

"Contain This" is a podcast produced by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security looking at global health security trends. The Centre has recently kicked off a new series on COVID-19 vaccines as it plans the $500 million Regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative targeting Southeast Asian and Pacific island countries.

To listen to discussion on topics such as vaccine uptake, financing, priority groups, as well as safety and efficacy, please refer to the link below:

Contain This: The Latest In Global Health Security

MVEC Vodcast series - COVID-19 vaccines

As 2020 draws to a close there is optimism that a safe and effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) will soon be approved to control the pandemic. With over 200 vaccine candidates currently in various stages of clinical trials across the globe, Australia has signed advance purchase agreements with 4 different vaccines.

In our 3-part vodcast series, COVID-19 vaccines, Dr Daryl Cheng and Dr Daniela Say discuss how it is possible to develop a vaccine in such a compressed timeline, the various vaccine platforms being utilised in clinical trials and their individual advantages and disadvantages, as well as the different priority groups to be offered immunisation. Daryl and Daniela touch on the preliminary results from clinical trials and what they show us in terms of vaccine safety and effectiveness, as well as discuss the ongoing safety monitoring that will occur even once a vaccine has been approved for use.

You can view the vodcasts via the link below:

MVEC: Vaccine vodcasts