Surgeon general issues health misinformation advisory amid vaccination push

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday issued an advisory calling health misinformation an “urgent threat” amid the COVID-19 vaccination push.

“Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health,” Murthy said in a statement. “It can cause confusion, sow distrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The advisory, the first issued by the surgeon general during the Biden administration, calls for a range of sectors to take action.

One focus, tech companies: It calls on technology and social media companies to do more to fight misinformation on their platforms, including redesigning algorithms to avoid amplifying misinformation and strengthening the monitoring of it.

The surgeon general pointed to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation finding that 67 percent of unvaccinated adults have heard a COVID-19 vaccine myth and either believed it or were not sure if it was true.

Murthy also pointed to research published in the journal Science that found false news stories were 70 percent more likely to be shared on social media than true ones.