18 Oct 2019

Research institute's name used to spread false information on measles

7:18 pm on 18 October 2019

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has warned people that wrong information claiming to use ESR data is being circulated.

Dr Richard Hulme holding Measles Vaccine

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research's Libby Harrison says the biggest concern is how many parents have seen the false data. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In a tweet put out by ESR this afternoon, they said an "unknown individual or entity may be spreading false information regarding vaccinations and hospitilisations for measles cases".

Health and environment general manager Libby Harrison said they were shown the document by a third party, but that they didn't know how widely the document had been circulated, but that it looked like they could be on an email or an online document.

Ms Harrison said they were using data that was plainly false, but claimed to be from the ESR.

"It's really clearly not of our data or our information," she said. "We can see multiple mistakes in what looks like an email, but we can't tell whether that's an email.

"There's a graph that's attached to the information we were sent, and the graph describes hospitilisation rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated cases. The data is completely wrong, and fraudulently attributed to ESR."

"They're suggesting that those children that are vaccinated are more likely to be hospitalised, which we know is not correct.

Ms Harrison said the biggest concern was around how many parents seen it, and whether they made decisions on whether to vaccinate their own children based on the "incorrect or misleading information".

If a parent did receive this information, Ms Harrison said either the ESR website or the Ministry of Health website were best for information for parents around the measles vaccine.

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