New Campaign Fights Vaccine Disinformation

February 3, 2021 – As healthcare providers work against the clock to deliver as many doses of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, logistics aren’t the only thing that stands in their way.

Misinformation – which has hampered the country’s response to coronaviruses – is also hurting vaccination efforts.

About 1 in 5 Americans report not taking a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor. Even a third of healthcare workers expressed hesitation.

The spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine is creating “a really powerful parallel pandemic to the real pandemic,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told NPR. The center has been tracking links between misinformation and vaccine reluctance over the past year.

The “infodemic” is basically “working together to really undermine our ability to contain COVID,” Ahmed said.

To help fight vaccine misinformation and address lingering concerns, business, nonprofit and media leaders, including WebMD and Medscape, are joining a public service campaign called VaxFacts. Led by HealthGuard, the goal of the campaign is to provide facts and tools to help consumers make informed decisions about vaccines.

Steven Brill, co-CEO of HealthGuard, said credible information from trusted messengers is key to countering vaccine reluctance.

“There is traditionally a lot of skepticism about vaccines. It has really accelerated in recent years thanks to the campaigns on the measles vaccine…. And now you have the COVID vaccine, which everyone says was “rushed,” Brill said in an interview on Coronavirus in context, a video series hosted by John Whyte, MD, Chief Medical Officer of WebMD.

“Perhaps we understand less the nature of what precipitation really means. He’s still undergone the clinical trials he needs. “

HealthGuard is a browser extension that reports health hoaxes, provides credibility ratings for hundreds of websites, and guides users to sources with reliable information. The tool is a new service from NewsGuard, which veteran journalists Brill and co-CEO Gordon Crovitz created in 2018 to tackle disinformation in the news. HealthGuard, which is free to users around the world until June, specifically aims to educate readers about health myths related to vaccines and COVID-19. It will cost $ 35 per year thereafter.

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Jothi Venkat

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