False coronavirus claims go viral before experts respond


On Tuesday morning, a Fox News contributor claimed on Twitter that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will require students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. By Tuesday night, the country’s most popular cable news program had repeated the claim, spreading to millions on social media.

“The CDC is about to add the Covid vaccine to the childhood immunization program, which will make it mandatory for kids to go to school,” said host Tucker Carlson. tweetshared a clip from his show that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times online.

But that claim is false: The CDC cannot mandate vaccinations for schoolchildren, a decision made by states and jurisdictions, the agency and multiple public health officials said.This initial tweet Nicole Saphier, a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, also misunderstood a planned meeting of CDC advisors who voted Wednesday to add a coronavirus vaccine to the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC), a safety net program that does not Provide any vaccine costs. A separate meeting scheduled for Thursday will discuss the agency’s childhood immunization program.

Public health experts say there is legitimate debate over whether schoolchildren should be required to get the coronavirus vaccine — but the incendiary and false claims made by Fox News figures are the latest example of how critics are misrepresenting the facts about the CDC and the coronavirus, It could lead to lower vaccination rates, less trust in federal health officials, and other consequences for public health.

“This is a whole new kind of dangerous misinformation,” Jerome M. Adams, the U.S. surgeon general and Indiana’s top health official during the Trump administration, wrote to The Washington Post. wrote in. “It can both harm children (by undermining the VFC program that helps vulnerable children get vaccines) and health officials (due to angry misinformation parents). We need to be able to have honest conversations about the pros and cons of vaccinating children, not suing blatant misinformation.”

The episode also illustrates how health care misinformation has quickly gained the upper hand, especially when it comes to a coronavirus vaccine, and has been exacerbated by frustration and confusion among many Americans over pandemic policies. But public health experts are often shy about their response, unsure when to engage in false claims that go viral. And when officials step in, they are often constrained by more deliberate and sometimes bureaucratic procedures.

“I’ve been working on vaccines for more than two decades. What I’ve seen, misinformation and disinformation spread faster now thanks to social media,” said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation executive vice president and former Chicago public health commissioner Julie Morita said. “There is no quick fix for this.”

Although some outspoken people, such as kavita patelDoctors and former Obama administration officials took to Twitter on Tuesday night to criticize the false claims and rebut them point by point, but federal officials responded more silently. In interviews Tuesday night, several administration officials said they had no plans to deal with the false claims, fearing they would amplify them. But by Wednesday morning, after Carlson’s part, the administration’s calculations had changed, as vaccine critics seized on misreported claims that the CDC would make it mandatory to vaccinate schoolchildren, raising concerns over federal health officials Anger is growing.

“Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis, Florida doesn’t allow COVID directives or push them to schools, and I continue to advise against their use for healthy kids,” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, wrote on Twitter.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take Carlson’s tweet was quoted on Twitter around noon Wednesday, noting that its independent vaccine advisory committee will vote on Thursday to “update the childhood immunization program.” “States set vaccine requirements for schoolchildren, not ACIP or CDC,” the tweet also said, linking to a page explaining state vaccine requirements.

The CDC’s response drew criticism from public health experts, who said the agency did not explicitly reject Carlson’s claims or speak in plain language. Two administration officials who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to comment publicly said they were disturbed that the CDC’s tweet citing Carlson had inadvertently amplified the lies in his video.

Meanwhile, Saphier’s original tweet was still posted Wednesday night and had been retweeted more than 2,400 times as of 6 p.m. Asked about Saphier’s tweet, Fox News noted tweet More than nine hours later, she sent a statement that states didn’t always follow the CDC’s recommendations. The tweet has been retweeted 55 times. Saffir also appeared on a Fox News segment Wednesday afternoon, clarifying her comments but reiterating her criticism of the need for further research on vaccines for children.

Memorial Sloan Caitlin said Saffir did not speak for the agency.

The CDC said in a statement Wednesday that the vaccine team will update its 2023 childhood and adult immunization schedule, including whether to add approved or authorized coronavirus vaccines, as guidance to health care providers.

“It’s important to note that the COVID-19 vaccine policy has not changed, and this action will help simplify access to healthcare by including all currently licensed, authorized and routinely recommended vaccines in one document,” said CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. clinical guidance for patients,” said in an email.

The revised immunization schedule will not take effect until January 2023. Federal health officials say early next year is also when the federal government will no longer provide vaccines for free. The practical impact of including vaccines on the CDC-recommended immunization list means that they are usually covered by insurance.

James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and vice-president of the American Medical Association, said the updated schedule “is also one place that everyone can look at and get exactly all the recommendations for all vaccines for all ages.” The Pediatric Society’s Committee on Infectious Diseases, said color-coded documents are an important tool for busy clinicians.

Public health experts note that recommendations issued by the CDC advisory panel do not necessarily translate into state-level mandates. For example, few states followed the panel’s 2006 recommendations for vaccinating adolescents against human papillomavirus or HPV.

Jason Schwartz, an associate professor at Yale who specializes in vaccine policy, said the CDC “has always wanted to stay away” from vaccination requirements and always obey local officials.

The poll found a stark partisan divide in views of the CDC and other agencies. In a September poll by the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters of Democrats said they rated officials at the CDC and other public health agencies positively, compared with only one-third of Republicans. Positive reviews.

“This division will make it harder for Republicans to get a future vaccine for the coronavirus variant,” said longtime Harvard pollster Robert Brandon.

Healthcare leaders also said the incident highlighted the challenges of informing the public about controversial public health issues. Drew Altman, head of the nonpartisan think tank Kaiser Family Foundation, said his group is focusing on fighting health care misinformation “that’s our next big thing.”

“It’s not enough for us to just provide good information. We must now also be in the business of fighting misinformation and deliberate disinformation,” Altman said.

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