The United Kingdom says it will take steps to halt the spread of misinformation about vaccines as a result of losing its "measles-free" status after the highly infectious disease was declared eliminated in the country three years ago, CNN reports.
Measles, which is almost entirely preventable with two doses of vaccine, is making a comeback globally. In the first half of the year, there have been almost three times as many cases as the same time last year. Cases globally are at the highest level since 2006, according to the World Health Organization.
"After a period of progress where we were once able to declare Britain measles free, we've now seen hundreds of cases of measles in the UK this year. One case of this horrible disease is too many, and I am determined to step up our efforts to tackle its spread," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
"This is a global challenge and there's a number of reasons why people don't get themselves or their children the vaccines they need, but we need decisive action across our health service and society to make sure communities are properly immunized."
Johnson said that that he would summon social media companies "to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination." He also said people would be encouraged to have catch-up vaccinations.
Social media has made it easier for vaccine opponents to operate although the pushback on immunization among some groups isn't the only reason behind the upsurge in the disease. Poor access to quality health care, displacement due to conflict, complacency and a lack of awareness also play big roles, according to WHO.
In Europe there have been close to 90,000 cases reported for the first six months of this year, exceeding those recorded for the whole of 2018, while the United States has reported its highest measles case count in 25 years, according to WHO.