US Surgeon General issues warning about vaccine misinformation

The US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says millions of Americans are sharing misleading information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

It has become such a problem, Murthy has released a 15-page advisory on how to identify and confront health misinformation.

"Among the things we're asking individuals to do is to pause before they share, to check sources," Dr. Murthy says. "And, if they're not sure the source is credible, to not share."

Dr. Murthy says there are so so-called "bad actors" intentionally sowing disinformation about the vaccine.

Still, he says, many of those forwarding inaccurate claims about the vaccine are not aware they are sharing misleading information.

The advisory cites a recent study that found even brief exposure to misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine made people less likely to want to get the shots.

Dr. Murthy says while misinformation is only one reason some Americans are not getting vaccinated, surveys show two-thirds of people who are unvaccinated believe myths might be true.

"(They are) Myths like you can get COVID from the vaccine, which is absolutely not true," Murthy says. "So, we know it's not the only driver that is leading people not to be vaccinated, but it's an important one."

The advisory includes advice on how to identify and avoid sharing misinformation.

The Surgeon General is calling on technology companies to do more to prevent the spread of misleading information.

"We know they've taken some steps to address misinformation, but much more has to be done, and we can't wait longer for them to take aggressive action, because it's costing people their lives," Dr. Murthy says.

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