We have officially left the difficult year of 2020 behind us, but the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on our communities are far from over. Two vaccines for COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA and more are in development, leading many Americans to see this progress as the light at the end of the tunnel. However, polling shows that 37 percent of the U.S population is currently unwilling to take the vaccine. This split among Americans in willingness to take the vaccine likely indicates that we are consuming and believing different information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. So how do we know what information about vaccines on the Internet is true, and what is not?
Develop social media skepticism
Our previous blog post on Speaking of STEM highlights the importance of remaining skeptical when interacting with coronavirus information and news stories on social media. This is also true of information about vaccines! Misinformation about potential negative effects of COVID-19 vaccines have run rampant on social media, likely contributing to the prevalence of vaccine skepticism in the U.S.
Find reliable sources of information
The breadth of vaccine misinformation on the Internet doesn’t mean that you should automatically discount any information you find online about vaccines, whether positive or negative. Instead, consider searching for information on vaccine safety and efficacy in authoritative sources, such as medical journals and library databases, instead of social media. We have access to a breadth of knowledge and information at Rutgers through our Libraries and the expert doctors and scientists who work here!
Here are two helpful resources that can help you stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly update a “Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines” page on their website. This site answers frequently asked questions about vaccines and links to CDC guidelines and other resources for further information. If you have any specific questions about COVID-19 vaccines that are giving you pause, this resource is a great place to begin searching for answers.
Rutgers University—New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) host the RutgersCast podcast. Their latest series, On the Pandemic, hosted by Mary O’Dowd, features conversations with experts and public health leaders both inside and outside of Rutgers discussing our state’s path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the series does not focus specifically on vaccines, the first episode discusses vaccine distribution and safety in NJ. It’s a great resource to learn more about the statewide effects of the pandemic, including vaccine safety and efficacy, from experts in our Rutgers community and throughout the state.
Stay informed and stay well!