A tide of “vaccine hesitancy,” reluctance to get inoculated because of unfounded fears and misinformation, is rising in the United States and throughout the world. The World Health Organization has identifiedvaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 most urgent public health challenges of this year.

The WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointed out recently that 20 million children worldwide simply lack access to vaccines because of war, weak primary health-care systems, poverty or unstable governments. But hesitancy among those who do have access is often the result of misinformation on social media, which can spread quickly.

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