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MPs to investigate resurgence of anti-vaccine movement

MPs will launch an inquiry into the resurgence of the anti-vaccine movement amid growing concern over the impact on British parents, ITV News has learned.

Vaccine scepticism - revitalised by the surge of anti-establishment politics across the world and growth of social media - has been blamed for soaring cases of measles across the US and Europe.

With fewer children being vaccinated against potentially fatal illnesses in the UK, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Vaccination told ITV News it was “critical” to investigate and counter anti-vaccine rhetoric on social media.

“With the threat of antibiotic resistance growing and vaccine uptake falling we are in danger of returning to a world where lives are damaged, shortened or lost due to infectious diseases that we thought we had beaten," Dr Philippa Whitford, the chair of the group, said.

The inquiry will begin in May before reporting its findings next year.

The move will add to the pressure on Facebook and YouTube to stop their platforms being used to spread medical misinformation.

Vaccine-related searches on social media have been shown to frequently return videos and articles describing vaccines as dangerous, with half of all parents with small children believed to have been exposed to negative information from so-called anti-vaxxers.

A Facebook spokesperson told ITV News that the platform recognised it needed to do more to combat the issue.

"We know we have more to do and we’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon," the spokesperson said.