It’s no secret that social media is a breeding ground for COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. Just recently, a group of healthcare professionals called on Spotify to adopt a misinformation policy after allowing Joe Rogan to spread what they said were misleading and false claims on his podcast. But just how much does misinformation actually factor into a person’s decision to not get vaccinated? And how urgent a problem is fake vaccine news?
For the first time, researchers at the Covid States Project—a collaborative effort by Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers—sought to quantify the impact of misinformation by hearing directly from frontline health care workers who tend to the unvaccinated that come down with COVID-19.
Doctors and nurses—and anyone else in scrubs—offer a unique insight into the pandemic, and they’re talking to sick people about their decision not to get inoculated, making them a valuable resource, explains one of the authors of a study, Northeastern’s David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer science. “They’re eyewitnesses to life and death health decisions in a way that most people are not, so we thought we would ask them what they’ve seen,” he says.