NewsIn Focus


Combatting the spread of misinformation about vaccines as COVID case numbers climb

Falsehoods blamed for slowing vaccination rates
Posted at 10:05 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 18:15:18-04

BALTIMORE — Many have heard the slogan “Stop the Spread” in regards to ending the pandemic, but now, health experts and elected officials are trying to stop another spread.

They believe the spread of misinformation is not only preventing some from getting vaccinated, but it’s also allowing the virus to mutate into more contagious forms.

A resurgence of Covid cases and the spread of the Delta variant has many health officials and elected leaders concerned about one factor they believe is driving it.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen said “we’re in this very upside down world where some people recite what they say are alternative facts but we all know facts are things that are true. That they’re empirically true. They’re provably true.”

Sen.Van Hollen explained what he thinks his fellow members of congress should do when rhetoric about the virus or vaccines emanates from Capitol Hill.

“We need to call it out whenever we see it so that the public really searches for the right information and listens to the health care experts,” Van Hollen said.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said “it certainly helps to craft how we approach messaging for the lay public. We seek to understand what are the specific myths or misinformation that groups have, and want to make sure we address them head on with data.”

It’s data which Cecil County Health Officer Lauren Levy said speaks for itself.

“It’s now been administered to millions and millions of people successfully, and it’s really proved to be safe and effective,” Levy said.

“The data shows that close to 100 percent of people who are dying from Covid-19 today, are people who’ve not been vaccinated. So, that should tell you something important,” Van Hollen said.

For those who still question the data, Dr. Fauci, or elected officials, Dr. Dzirasa recommends a few other trusted sources.

“If you’re still out there thinking about it, if you’re still trying to make a decision, please go to trusted sources. You know, talk to your primary care provider. Talk to a friend or family member who got the vaccine,” Dzirasa said.

“I’m hopeful as friends and family of those individuals get vaccinated and they see that it’s safe. Unfortunately, we’ve all heard the stories about individuals who lose a friend or a family member, and that’s the motivating factor. I don’t want that to be the motivating factor for people,” Levy said.

As some blame social media for the spread of misinformation, the Cecil County Health Department recently took to social media to ask the unvaccinated what's stopping them from rolling up their sleeves and getting their shots.

“There’s definitely a significant portion of the respondents to that survey who are not interested in getting vaccinated, and at least indicated on the survey that’s there’s really nothing that’s going to change their mind,” Levy said.

To date, about 48 percent of the total population of Baltimore City is fully vaccinated, while about 42 percent of the total population of Cecil County is fully vaccinated, leaving health officials with a lot more work to do.

“I have not given up. I am a relentless optimist and I appreciate that people have feelings about vaccination that are different from my own. And so, what I am really focusing on particular with the increased variants and we’re really focusing on the fact that now is the time,” Levy said.