Technology & Innovation

Fact or fiction: Overcoming health misinformation

June 30, 2021

Asia

Fact or fiction: Overcoming health misinformation

June 30, 2021

Asia
Jason Wincuinas

Manager, Policy and insights

Based in Hong Kong, Jason covers Asia from Australia to India. His background includes managing publications, financial reporting and technical marketing as well as a decade of product-sourcing experience with mainland China factories. Some of his most formative work, however, has been as a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer, covering topics from perfluorocarbons to popcorn. Jason received a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with study at the University of Sheffield in Yorkshire, UK.

Fact or fiction: Overcoming health misinformation

Covid-19 vaccines do not alter DNA. Nonetheless, the idea is widely shared on social media. It’s simply false and education is needed to battle the notion.

But a frightening and misunderstood instance of rare, potentially fatal blood clots in a handful of cases is harder to combat. There have been links to clotting with certain vaccines and researchers are only beginning to understand why but peer reviews are still pending. Meanwhile, misinformation is still spreading. The public doesn’t wait for answers; they take inaction now.

Even before various covid-19 vaccine injections began, anti-vaxx sentiment—which has existed as long as vaccines—went on an upswing. Propagation of the myriad half-truths and outright lies have hampered vaccination efforts globally.

For all the attention they receive, adamant anti-vaxxers may not be the biggest roadblock to controlling the virus. The vaccine-hesitant form a far larger global population. And while they may not question the motives of pharmaceutical companies, doctors or policymakers, they are exposed to enough mis- and disinformation about the efficacy and side effects of vaccines, as well as covid-19’s severity, that many decide against vaccination.1

People acting or not acting on health-related matters based on bad information is nothing new. And hostility or indifference to modern medicine is ancient. What is new is the sheer volume of mis- and disinformation and the variety of mediums through which it is disseminated and consumed widely and almost instantaneously.


1 Considering Emotion in COVID-19 Vaccine Communication: Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy and Fostering Vaccine Confidence. Health Communication. 30 October 2020. Available online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2020.1838096

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