Wausau Pilot & Review

A week after the COVID-19 vaccinations were approved for children ages 5 to 11 years old, the U.S. Surgeon General on Tuesday released a community toolkit to address health misinformation.

“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,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “Health misinformation is spreading fast and far online and throughout our communities.”

The toolkit, according to Dr. Murthy, provides Americans with resources to “help limit and reduce this threat to public health.”

According to the statement issued by the Health & Human Services, Dr. Murthy issued the first Surgeon General’s Advisory of this administration earlier this year, warning people about the urgent threat of health misinformation and calling for a whole-of-society approach to address it.

“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,” the HHS statement said.

What has added to the problem, health officials say, is celebrities, including Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine. Rodgers, who had lied about his vaccination status, admitted misleading people about it.

The vaccination rate in Marathon County, with 53.4% people having taken at least one shot, is below the state (58.1%) and national (78.9%) rates. Over 753,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year, according to the CDC.

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The HHS toolkit has a 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.

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