As Vaccinations are Approved for Children Across the Country, U.S. Surgeon General Releases New Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation

November 9, 2021

Toolkit offers specific guidance to individuals, health care professionals and administrators, teachers, librarians, and faith leaders to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation 

As a new phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign begins for children ages 5 to 11 years old, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy releases a Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation – PDF to help Americans navigate the serious threat of health misinformation, especially online. Earlier this year, Dr. Murthy issued the first Surgeon General’s Advisory of this administration warning people about the urgent threat of health misinformation and calling for a whole-of-society approach to address it.

“With the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 to11 years old, it is more important than ever that families have access to accurate, science-based information. Health misinformation is spreading fast and far online and throughout our communities,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy. “The good news is that we all have the power to help stop the spread of health misinformation during this pandemic and beyond. That’s where this toolkit comes in—to provide Americans with resources to help limit and reduce this threat to public health.”  

The Surgeon General’s Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation provides specific guidance to individuals, health care professionals and administrators, teachers, school administrators, librarians, and faith leaders to understand, identify, and stop the spread of health misinformation in their communities. The toolkit comes at a critical time when Americans are learning more about the role technology companies play in the spread of health misinformation.  

Resources in the Community Toolkit include:  

  • A Health Misinformation Checklist to help evaluate the accuracy of health-related content;  
  • Tips on how individuals can talk to loved ones about health misinformation;  
  • An outline of common types of misinformation and disinformation tactics; and  
  • Reflections and examples of times individuals may have encountered misinformation.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health misinformation and disinformation (misinformation that is spread intentionally to serve a malicious purpose) have threatened the U.S. response to COVID-19 and continue to prevent Americans from getting vaccinated, prolonging the pandemic and putting lives at risk. 

In response, the Surgeon General issued the first advisory of this Administration in July on Health Misinformation, laying out how the nation can confront health misinformation by helping individuals, families, and communities better identify and limit its spread. The advisory also outlines several ways institutions in education, media, medicine, research, and government stakeholders can approach this issue. It underscores the urgent need for technology and social media companies to address the way misinformation and disinformation spread on their platforms, threatening people’s health. The full Surgeon General’s Advisory can be found here.    

The Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation can be found here – PDF.

For more information about the Office of the Surgeon General, please visit: www.surgeongeneral.gov.  

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Source: US HHS