Social media users reject calls for vaccination

As cases of respiratory viruses rise, local media outlets in Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky are urging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, flu, and RSV. In comments on these articles, some social media users falsely claimed that vaccines are dangerous and ineffective, and others falsely claimed that disease outbreaks are tied to election cycles.

Risk level: Medium

Recommendation: These types of comments may discourage patients in the South from getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine, this season’s flu vaccine, and the RSV vaccine during respiratory virus season. It is recommended doctors in the South be prepared to answer questions about routine vaccine safety. Talking points may emphasize that vaccines are rigorously tested and prevent severe illness and death. Additional debunking messaging may emphasize that disease outbreaks are not tied to election years. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. The RSV vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 and older and for pregnant people.