HMMMMM: The Internet is full of false health information, but perhaps it is none is more dangerous than the quacks warning people not to get a vaccination for COVID. They are endangering not only people who aren’t vaccinated but the population as a whole. Should they be held criminally or finally liable for their lies?
We will never defeat COVID as long as so many people feel that vaccines aren’t safe. Not only have they been shown effective but there is less than a .05% chance a vaccinated person will require hospitalization if they get COVID.
A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in early April finds that roughly half of U.S. adults (53%) say the internet has been essential for them personally during the pandemic and another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.” But what they read may or may not be true. More than half of U.S. adults have had at least one vaccine shot. But according to data on daily vaccinations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day average count of people receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine started dropping slightly nine days ago. In addition, the number of people who are refusing to get their second COVID shot is rising.
A recent NPR/Marist poll found that one in four Americans said they would refuse a coronavirus vaccine outright if offered. Another 5% are “undecided” about whether they would get the shot. Although the numbers were highest for Republican men and residents of rural areas, there were still a significant number of people across all ages and demographic groups who claim they will say “no.”
Researchers are increasingly worried that if reticence will be enough to prevent the nation from reaching what’s known as herd immunity, the point at which the coronavirus can no longer spread easily through the population and transmission peters out. Reaching high levels of vaccination would mean new outbreaks of the coronavirus would die down quickly, as opposed to growing and spreading.
Women are 71 percent more likely not to pursue vaccination, researchers found, followed by Blacks at 41 percent. Survey results also showed that politics play a role: each one-point increase in conservatism increases the odds of vaccine refusal by 18 percent. Those who said they intended to vote for President Donald Trump in the presidential election – the survey was conducted in mid-2020 – were 29 percent more likely to refuse vaccination. The study revealed two top reasons for vaccine refusal: concerns about safety and effectiveness.
Can you blame them? The J&J vaccine has had a small fraction of patients with clots, yet the FDA overreacted and stopped distribution to the point that many are flat out refusing to get vaccinated with the J&J vaccine. Even though experts have weighed in and said the vaccines are safe and effective, four years of a liar in chief has led to the mistrust of the government.
So what about people who are spreading false or inaccurate information from so-called experts who have largely been discredited? Should they be held responsible?
The law has not kept up with the evolution if the Internet. Facebook, for example, has continually lied to Congress and its users but has not once been held accountable other than a light spanking. Even a billion dollar fine to Facebook would be just a small drop in their money reserves. But individuals who claim to be influencers can do more damage.
I’ve read posts from people who claim to be from the scientific community who question the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Most are venting because their careers didn’t go as planned, but if they influence even one person to skip vaccination and that person gets sick or dies because of what they wrote, should they get away with it? I don’t believe they should.
For the most part, the healthcare industry has basically taken the position that “you’re on your own” when it comes to online health information. Facebook is at least trying to take down posts that are lies, but it’s a losing battle as someone else posts another canard about COVID.
I learned in law school that the law is based on “casebook law” and that there are a few who will make new case law soon. One can only hope that they go after the prophets of doom who believe that you’re better without a vaccination.