Health bosses are urging people to fact check comments left by “Facebook experts” on social media platforms after the authority’s posts promoting vaccinations were flooded with negative reactions.
The comments included claims the jabs will impact on women being able to have children in the future, people were being coerced into having them and even they could kill.
Keith Beech, Walsall Council’s director of communications, marketing and brand told members of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board they had published 698 social media posts in July, earning more than 1,100,000 views.
But those specifically promoting the vaccination bus travelling around the borough attracted a negative reaction. A report said 27 per cent of all council post dislikes were attributed to the bus.
Negative posts included one which said: “It really is important you explain that young women who want kids should consider it for the future. Many women having menstrual issues because of it.”
Another said: “What a waste of public money! Shame shame shame shame on you.
“Also the amount of unused vaccines being thrown away daily is a disgrace!!!. People don’t want your vaccine! Why not promote healthy eating or exercise to help build immune systems?”
One social media user asked, “Why are people still believing this farce?” while another shouted: “AVOID AVOID AVOID DEATH WARNING!”
At a meeting on September 7, Walsall’s director of public health Stephen Gunther said they were working to get information and advice out to all parts of the community assuring people the vaccine is safe.
He added: “I will stress (taking the vaccine) is the most effective element to protect you against coronavirus.”
Mr Beech said: “Vaccination posts are attracting a lot of engagement and discussion around them.
“Some of that is negative and we know some people have fears and concerns about the vaccine. We know some will be described as anti-vaxxers.
“They are active on social media and are commenting on posts from ourselves and partners. We are making sure we are putting accurate information out.
“So if there is any information put on our discussion boards that we feel is inaccurate then we will challenge that.
“But social media is about conversations and in conversations you have differences of opinions. The positive thing about a discussion thread on social media is the more often people engage with it, the more people will see it.”
He added the council has worked with Walsall Football Club, community groups and businesses to get messages out to as many residents as possible.
Stephen Craddock, Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “There are hundreds of Facebook experts.
“But they are not experts really so fact check the information from a reliable source such as the NHS and council websites because they are fact checked as well.”