Not all things you read on the Internet are true.
Local health officials have been busy fighting the spread of COVID-19 and misinformation throughout the pandemic.
In an effort to try and get more people vaccinated, local health officials are trying to reach those who simply do not know what to believe anymore.
According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, two-thirds of anti-vaccine content shared or posted on Facebook and Twitter between February 1 and March 16, 2021, can be attributed to a dozen people. This was found in a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, an organization based in London, England, and Washington.
“There is a hardcore of anti-vaccination activists,” said Colby. “There are about 12 anti-vaxxers who are responsible for the majority of misinformation on the Internet and because they engender a large number of social media hits, are deriving considerable income from their activities.”
Colby said the number of people who refuse all vaccinations across the board, by most estimates, is around two to three percent of the population.
“The problem is they can be influential to people whom have trouble discerning real scientific information from misinformation,” added Colby. “You get about a third of the total population really not knowing who to believe about vaccinations. That’s the group that we’re trying to reach with good, solid scientific information and reassurance that this technology is incredibly safe.”
The region’s top doctor said the vaccines have been tested numerous times and that vaccines are very effective.
“It’s got to the point where basically people who are fully vaccinated, only two out of 1,000 that are infected will end up in the hospital. There are many, many other common diseases that have higher rates of hospitalization and bad outcomes than that.”
Colby said those who are hesitant about the vaccine could trust the science.
“There have been people who don’t understand the nature of messenger RNA vaccination technology that have expressed some skepticism and worry that it may affect the human genome or fertility,” said Colby. “There’s absolutely no evidence or a plausible scientific mechanism that could even theoretically support those kinds of concerns.”
As of July 23, Seventy-four percent of Chatham-Kent residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 62 percent have received two. Among residents 18 and older, 76 percent have received at least one dose, and 65 percent have received two.
“The vaccine is so effective if we can just get a broad section of the population vaccinated – which we certainly have achieved in the older age groups that are most susceptible, so I’m very happy about that – we should be able to vaccinate our way out of this pandemic,” said Colby.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News