WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is pleading with companies and individuals alike to help slow the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 as the country again sees an uptick in cases.
In his first public advisory since assuming his post in January, Murthy said misinformation poses an “urgent threat,” especially since a third of American adults remain unvaccinated. He said misinformation is literally killing people.
“(Misinformation) has led people to resist wearing masks in high-risk settings, it’s led them to turn down proven treatments and to choose not to get vaccinated,” Murthy told reporters at a White House press briefing Thursday. “Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health.”
He issued a 15-page report that calls for social media platforms, local government officials and individuals to push back against the spread of inaccuracies about the virus and vaccines.
“As we say in the advisory, if you are not sure, don’t share,” he said. “Every one of us has the power and responsibility to make a difference in this fight.”
A spring survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly two thirds of unvaccinated adults believe or are unsure about the reality of vaccine myths.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the highly contagious delta variant is surging in states like Arkansas and Missouri, where vaccination rates remain low. Health officials say 99.5% of those who are getting sick have not been vaccinated.
“I always tell people that I am vaccinated,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said, adding that he encourages his constituents to do the same.
“I trust Missourians to make their own medical decisions,” he said. “My view is you’ve just got to get them the facts.”