COVID-19 Misinformation and Anti-Vaccine Tactics
There are really so many places to start with COVID-19 and its really kind of ridiculous that in the 21st century of medicine and access to unlimited information, a good portion of American society still chooses conspiracy theory. This makes things complicated when discussing the vaccine, especially with family and friends who opt to listen to far-right media sources or rely on Facebook for information. When so many people passionately argue against the vaccine and confidently use statistics you have never heard, how do you know you have the right information?
Information sources are important, and a good tactic people use to get a point across whether they believe it is right or wrong is to invest a whole lot of confidence in what they are saying. The beautiful thing about science is that through the process of the scientific method, the conclusion is fact whether you agree or not. If you want science fact and not science fiction – stop listening to the network media and social media. All of it. Network media is just a talking head that spits out information as it becomes available. Social media uses shorthand tactics to convey a point such as meme’s and gifs while being based on opinion and not actual facts.
What are proper sources?
For anything that follows disease and medicine, you should use disease and medical sources. You can start by using Google to search official medical sources following COVID-19. Right away you will get a link for “cedars-sinai.org” followed by “People also search for”. If you click on the link, it takes you to an article published March 04, 2020. You might ask yourself; how do I know I can trust this source from other sources?
Cedars-sinai.org is a website by a non-profit organization. You know because of the trademark at the bottom of the article you clicked on. If you use Google you will see that Cedars-Sinai is a Medical Center located in Los Angeles, California. You also are provided with the address and phone number along with the hours of operation which is 24 hours. The CEO is Thomas M. Priselac and this medical center was founded in 1902. Its affiliated universities are: UCLA, USC, WGU, and others. Its Subsidiaries include CFHS Holding, INC., Tower Hematology Oncology Medical Group, Tower Oncology, LLC, and 4 other prestigious groups, institutes, and foundations that are dedicated to medical research.
Details… Details… Details…
If you break down these details what they tell you is that Cedars-Sinai.Org is actually a website designated by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and it is a legit facility. It was originally founded in 1902 which means that it has 119 years of medical research behind it. It’s affiliates and subsidiaries are education and medical based. If you were to research them, you’d find out that UCLA only accepts around 14% of its applicants, it was founded in 1919, and is the only leading research institution in the U.S. that was started in the 20th century. Therefore, you can already see that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is a good source to use for Covid-19.
If you go back to your article from cedars-sinai.org, remembering that you are asking for reliable covid-19 sources, it will give tell you their top three go-to resources for Covid-19 data and why.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov)
- The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH)
- The World Health Organization (WHO)
Sources and How to Use Them
Right off the bat we have three good sources, however, LADPH we will leave out because its not necessarily a national or international source we want to use. Nevertheless, where one goes, two more take its place. Let’s list all our sources of information regarding Covid-19.
- Mayo Clinic
- Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)
About Mayo Clinic and KFF
In short, the Mayo Clinic is ranked the No. 1 “Best Hospital” nationwide by U.S. News and World Report for 2021-2022 rankings. KFF publishes analysis, polling, and journalism about health-care issues as it pertains to domestic U.S. health policy issues and conducts work on the U.S. role in global health policy.
Misinformation using a real source but data that fits a personal narrative
To get right into it, many anti-vaccine misinformation spreaders cite the CDC and will make outlandish claims such as “Covid-19 has a 98% survival rate” or “More vaccinated are dying from Covid than unvaccinated”. To combat these claims, just go to the source they used – cdc.gov.
Using CDC.GOV and what it REALLY says about Covid
Right away the CDC website gives it's guest a virtual banner that states “Coronavirus Disease 2019 CDC is responding to the coronavirus outbreak” and then provides a blue button that says, “Learn More”. When you click it, you are taken to another one of its pages with listed highlights – Vaccination Card, COVID-19 & Pregnant People, Testing for COVID-19, and Get Vaccinated. It also tells you that you can learn more about the booster shots. If you keep reading you will see a lot of promotion regarding the vaccine and even resources to find out where you can get vaccinated.
Continue down the website and you will run into Cases & Data. One particular thing stands out here and that’s the total number of deaths in the US. As of October 11, 2021 there are 711,020 deaths in the US caused by Covid-19. If you click this statistic, the CDC will direct you to another one of its many Covid-19 pages. On this page it simplifies the data further and gives you filter options. To the left of the page you will see a list of other data sets that you can look at and one of those options are Vaccinations. If you click on the + button more options drop down for Vaccinations. One of those options is “COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness”.
Welcome to the data set of COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness. In the first paragraph you’ll read “all COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are effective at preventing COVID-19, especially severe disease, hospitalization, and death.” Already it seems there is conflicting information between what anti-vaccinated persons are claiming they read on the CDC website and what is right in front of us as we review the CDC website for ourselves.
This section of the CDC website also provides how the CDC monitors COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness from five different perspectives of the virus, the population that was monitored, and the monitoring system that was used.
Safety & Monitoring and what you need to know
The anit-vaccinated community likes to argue adverse effects of the vaccine are too much of a risk. Well the CDC has a resource for that, it’s called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). All you have to do is use that same panel where you found the drop down for Vaccines and look for “Safety & Monitoring”. Click the + under that section and then click “Reported Adverse Events”.
You really don’t have to go far here. Not only was this page updated within the last 5 days, but the bullet points provide you with official statements from an official source.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
- Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
- CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older get vaccinated as soon as possible to help protect against COVID-19 and the related, potentially severe complications that can occur.
- CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal agencies are monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Adverse events described on this page have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
- VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event following any vaccination.
- Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including death, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine cause a health problem.
“Serious adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare but may occur.”
Cross referencing data using the WHO
It’s very important to use multiple sources and cross-reference data with other official data sets. Doing this will allow you to see a wider scope of data sets and if that data correlates with the first. If the data is different then one of them is using incorrect data or information that is out of date. Another possibility is that the data set for one may focus on something more specific than the data on the other. You will need to be very careful when reviewing this information to avoid getting the wrong the conclusion.
None of this is the case for the CDC and the WHO. Not only do they provide a lot of the same information, but the numbers are within the same ranges.
WHO, however, has an excellent Q&A page regarding Vaccines safety. On this section alone they provide 18 Q&A topics that covers specific mRNA vaccines, how WHO informs on adverse events, differences in immunity through your immune system and immunity with the vaccine and a lot more.
The WHO also provides resources by citing its information at the bottom of the Q&A page. They include links for VAERS and the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS).
What the Mayo Clinic says about COVID-19
If you use the search option on the Mayo Clinics website – Covid-19 – It will give you a list of options to choose from. Since we are discussing vaccines, lets select COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts.
On this page the opening statement already agrees with the CDC and the WHO – “Vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic.”
Below that are Q&A sections that cover COVID-19 vaccine benefits, Safety and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, Variants and COVID-19 vaccines, and five other important sections that cover COVID-19 and vaccine related information.
To the right you will notice that the Mayo Clinic also provides a “Related information” section with a link titled “COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked”. This link takes you to a new page under their website and right after a quick introductory section the first myth targets the false claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it was rapidly developed and tested.
The Mayo Clinic goes on to say that: “Many pharmaceutical companies invested significant resources into quickly developing a vaccine for COVID-19 because of the world-wide impact of the pandemic. The emergency situation warranted an emergency response but that does not mean that companies bypassed safety protocols or didn’t perform adequate testing.”
There are about 11 of these listed on this page but another example that I think is pretty important:
MYTH: More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would actually die from the virus.
Fact: Circulating on social media is the claim that COVID-19s mortality rate is 1%-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition, the mortality rate can vary widely and is influenced by age, sex, and underlying health condition.
While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is common when receiving any vaccine and not considered serious or life-threatening. You cannot get COVID-19 infection from the COVID-19 vaccines; they are inactivated vaccines and not live viruses.
It's important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from COVID-19. It's about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are far better than not getting a vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy people.
This page also covers myths circulating about the use of fetal tissue, the vaccine altering DNA, and the development of the vaccine for the purpose of population control.
What can the KFF tell me that other reliable sources haven’t?
KFF publishes analysis, polling, and journalism about health-care issues as it pertains to domestic U.S. health policy issues and conducts work on the U.S. role in global health policy. But really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Much of what the KFF focuses on are persons with low income or those who are otherwise especially vulnerable to health-care cost, such as the uninsured, those with chronic illnesses, or Medicaid/Medicare recipients.
For example, KFF provides an article titled: “Who Remains Unvaccinated? Unvaccinated Adults Are Younger, Less Educated, And More Republican Than Those Who Are Vaccinated”
In this article, KFF provides its key findings in bullet point representation and 25 visual data figures that support its conclusion. Each figure has an explanation on what the data set represents.
With all of this data why is there so much misinformation and disinformation?
The CDC defines misinformation as false information shared by people who do not intend to mislead others while disinformation is false information deliberately created and disseminated with malicious intent.
Misinformation begins in many different ways through many different platforms. In general, misrepresentation of information through media sources is one of those platforms. The media will often use headlines to get the public’s attention using key words which don’t translate well to the public. There are also news networks that will play back statements from public figures who want to discuss COVID-19 subject matter that also don’t translate well to the public due to the network’s political agenda or because the network doesn’t know how to explain the data to the public.
For example, the misinformation that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed as a way to control the general population either through microchip tracking or nano transducers came from a concept that Bill Gates commented on regarding a digital certificate of vaccine records. This was because this information was grossly misrepresented causing the conspiracy.
When we look at disinformation, this is where misinformation or confusing headlines are used to spread fear of the vaccine and the mandate that followed the neglectful decision of the public to refuse the vaccine and any safety protocols put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Disinformation is mostly promoted on social media and has led to the use of self-medicated practices that are not proven to help combat COVID-19.
Follow the CDCs instruction on how to recognize and addressing misinformation and disinformation.
Why do people intentionally spread disinformation?
Similar questions could be asked about other social issues such as why are people racist? Why do people abuse children? Why does child molestation occur? These are hard questions to answer because what could drive things that are so terrible? Even if you had an answer, there wouldn’t be one that would satisfy the question.
As far as COVID-19, this has blown up into a political nightmare for the U.S. and we are in a period of confusion where people are willing to take extreme measures just to support their political party. In other cases, people want easy access to information and news networks are there to deliver it no matter how that information is translated. Outside of bad media, there is money to be made in propaganda. As long as there is money in propaganda, there will always be disinformation.
There are people that are also simply in denial and whatever doesn’t affect them also doesn’t really exist. Then there are those that just want to cause chaos. Those that just want to start trouble and drag other people down.
Other issues and how to address them
"COVID was created as a biological weapon…"
The Pew Research Center published an article April 8, 2020 that 3 in 10 believe COVID-19 was made in a lab. But majority of the way through 2021 it still seems to be debated. If there were a deliberate attempt to start biological warfare, it would be more beneficial to use a biological agent that would infect food and water supplies as communities fell deathly ill.
This was also debunked in two ways; genetic sequencing indicated that the virus has the natural origins as a zoonotic virus. Additionally, a WHO team that directly investigated the origins of the virus, traced the virus to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China. The market sold fresh and frozen animals and many of the earliest infections were in people who had visited it. Ultimately, the market acquired its merchandise through farmed wild animals through the wildlife trade.
"There isn’t enough information about the vaccine to trust it…"
This is simply NOT true. All the data that I presented is just the beginning of data acquired about the vaccines. This is not an excuse to get vaccinated, and its simply untrue. There was less public information on the vaccines that cured smallpox and polio.
"You can still catch and transmit the virus even if you are vaccinated…"
This generally goes with the conspiracy that the vaccinated are “super spreaders”. The vaccine, while it isn’t 100% effective, the CDC, WHO, Mayo Clinic, FDA, and other reliable sources reflect that the vaccine greatly reduces the chances of hospitalization due to COVID-19 and is 98% effective in reducing death due to COVID-19 with a 60%-80% probability that a vaccinated individual won’t transmit the virus and transmission of the virus is only possible for a short period of time.
A non-vaccinated person is 10x more likely to be hospitalized, spreads the virus more easily and for a longer period of time.
Did you find this useful?
I want to spread awareness of the vaccine and COVID-19 because it’s not something that we should fear but it is something that we should take seriously. Those that live in fear choose not to get vaccinated because they are misled to believe that the vaccine is some sort of control tactic. I encourage people to use the correct resources and understand the science of the matter.
Look out for more content pertaining to the Vaccine Mandate as I dig into the implications, what it encompasses, and why it’s not breaking constitutional rights.