Middle-class moms are organizing forums to exploit Covid vaccine worries in order to promote misconceptions about other vaccinations, contributing to a ten-year low in vaccination take-up rates.
A Daily Mail investigation has discovered that vaccine sceptic organizations that gained traction during the epidemic are now spreading misinformation about how all vaccines are ‘poisonous.’
Wider anti-vaxx movements, fearing they would be able to capitalize on the pandemic, have raised their voices in recent weeks.
A ten-year low has been reached in the vaccination rate for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, according to the Department of Public Health England.
Meanwhile, according to a study of National Health Service data, hospital admissions for measles increased by about 600 percent between 2014 and 2019, from 57 to 396 cases, placing the country at risk of a major outbreak.
One of the Arnica Parents’ Support Network group’s administrators is mother-of-two Marijke Roberts, 60, who calls herself a ‘psychotherapeutic counsellor’ and runs her own clinic
Experts warn that ‘boho yoga mums’ are advocating ‘natural remedies’ online and peddling dangerous anti-vaccine myths to other parents.
Ringleaders include homoeopaths, psychotherapists and conspiracy theorists who rail against the 5G mobile phone network. One of the groups is the Arnica Parents’ Support Network set up by a primary school teacher in 2009 to promote ‘natural immunity’.
Its Facebook membership has soared by 16 per cent to 43,000 during the pandemic. Posts on the page include parents proclaiming: ‘Covid has made me second think all vaccs [sic]’.
Anonymous posts by those sceptical about vaccines are often bombarded by members telling them that jabs will damage their child’s health. One appeals for ‘scientific studies’ to show their partner to convince them not to vaccinate their child.
One of the group’s administrators is mother-of-two Marijke Roberts, 60, who calls herself a ‘psychotherapeutic counsellor’ and runs her own clinic. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Carshalton, Surrey, with her husband. One of her Facebook posts has been flagged by the platform as ‘false information’ for claiming the Covid survival rate is 99.991 per cent for the under-60s.
Another group administrator is Kate Wren, 44, a supporter of Extinction Rebellion and Jeremy Corbyn. She lives with her husband Ben, their three young children, dogs, cats and chickens in a £390,000 cottage in Devon. Mrs Wren describes herself as ‘a declutterer’ and runs a business called Sorted Nest. Mrs Roberts and Mrs Wren declined to comment.
Another group administrator is Kate Wren, 44, a supporter of Extinction Rebellion and Jeremy Corbyn
Posts on another Facebook group called E202, which has 22,000 members, include falsehoods about the MMR jab being linked to autism.
E202 was at the forefront of organising anti-lockdown protests across the country.
One ringleader Simone Marshall, 37, helped arrange a rally at Trafalgar Square in September 2020.
Living in Witley, Surrey, she has a master’s degree in real estate from Salford University and is an associate director at a firm which advises healthcare providers.
She was at the forefront of the protests and she has also described those at the top of the medical industry as ‘atheist and satanist’ on her Facebook page.
Miss Marshall was contacted for comment.
The UK Health Security Agency warned that one in ten children now starts school at risk of catching deadly measles after vaccination rates slumped during the pandemic. Since the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1968, around 20million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK.
One ringleader Simone Marshall, 37, helped arrange a rally at Trafalgar Square in September 2020
But Britain lost its ‘measles free’ status from the World Health Organisation in 2019.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions for mumps rose from a low of 213 a year in 2015-16 to 600 in 2019-20, a spike of 181 per cent. Dr Peter English, a retired consultant in communicable disease control, warned it was ‘irresponsible to say natural immunity is better’.
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, said Facebook had done ‘far too little’ to tackle ‘dangerous, unscientific nonsense’ on its platform. A Facebook spokesman said it has new initiatives to connect users ‘to accurate information from public health bodies’ on vaccines.
n The first 600,000 eligible people will receive invitations for a spring Covid booster jab this week. It will be offered to five million who are over-75, in a care home or vulnerable. Booking opens today.