Aug 27, 2021
The news has been full of stories about COVID-19 vaccines, and the possible need for booster shots or a third inoculation for some people. Unfortunately, we are seeing a significant amount of contradictory information. How do we know which information source is accurate?
As many of us use the internet to try to find answers to our health concerns, the Immunization Action Coalition (www.vaccineinformation.org) suggests questions you should ask when evaluating online health information.
- Who manages this information?
- Who is paying for the project, and what is their purpose?
- What is the original source of the information that they have posted?
- How is information reviewed before it gets posted?
- How current is the information?
- If they are asking for personal information, how will they use that information and how will they protect your privacy?
The University of California San Francisco (www.ucsfhealth.org) offers the following “red flags” to consider when reviewing online information.
- The information is anonymous
- There is a conflict of interest
- The information is one-sided or biased
- The information is outdated
- There is a claim of a miracle or secret cure
- No evidence is cited
- The grammar is poor and words are misspelled
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC, www.cdc.gov) reports that their vaccine and immunization web content is researched, written and approved by subject matter experts, including physicians, researchers, epidemiologists, and analysts. Content is based on peer-reviewed science. CDC leadership makes the final decision on the words, images and links to best serve the information needs of the public as well as healthcare providers, public health professionals, partners, educators, and researchers. Science and public health data are frequently updated.
The CDC reports that a booster vaccine may be approved this fall to be given to individuals starting eight months after they received their second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. If approved, the booster will be made available to those who are most at risk, including healthcare providers, residents of long-term care facilities, and other older adults. The booster dose would be given to people who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time. This is called waning immunity.
A third dose of the vaccine has been recommended for some people, who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and did not build enough protection when they first get a vaccination. This third dose is different in purpose to a booster. If you believe that you may need a third dose of the vaccine, discuss your personal situation with your healthcare professional.
The CDC also addresses several myths that have surfaced about the COVID-19 vaccines and reports that
- COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips
- COVID-19 vaccines do not cause you to be magnetic
- COVID-19 vaccines do not alter our DNA
- Being near to a someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine will not affect your menstrual cycle.
Whether or not you receive a COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision. This decision should be made with valid scientific information. Your medical provider is a good place to start if you need sound medical advice on what is best for you and your family.