By now most people have heard the infamous story about Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend allegedly having a concerning side effect on his genitals after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The tweet was quickly debunked by medical professionals, but the damage was already done. Fans protested outside the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta and health officials in Trinidad also had to work to debunk the claim.
Fact checking has always been important, but now it is even more necessary due to the amount of information thrown at us daily. Health officials like the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health are valuable resources that can be used to check information shared by friends, relatives or celebrities about COVID-19. Anecdotes from loved ones or celebrities should not be taken as gospel because they usually are not scientists and research should always be done through scholarly sources. No, conspiracy videos on YouTube do not count as research.
Like the telephone game, information can be changed after going through various people, which is why checking official sources and analyses is crucial. Since the pandemic has become so politicized, it’s also important to get information from unbiased sources. News outlets are good at breaking down health care jargon into layman’s terms, but not all news sources are created equal. The Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post are all good sources.
Some have criticized scientists and government officials for changing guidelines throughout the pandemic, but that is because what we know about the virus has changed. We are watching the scientific method in progress and as said in many research methods classes, good research should change. Our methods of combating the pandemic will change as we are presented with new evidence of what works best. At the beginning of the pandemic it was recommended that we avoid touching things after other people, but now we know the virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air and surface transmission isn’t as much of a concern.
Guidance is also changing because of new variants being discovered around the world. In the U.S. the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus, resulting from mutations as COVID-19 spread. The CDC said the most effective way to limit the spread of variants is to continue wearing masks and get the vaccine, which prevents the spread of the virus, thereby limiting how often it mutates. This is another reason why it is important to pay attention to the most recent information about COVID-19.
There are easy ways to keep up with developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. One of which is to install the app of a trusted, unbiased news outlet on your device and enable push notifications. Another method is to follow news outlets and health organizations like the CDC on Twitter. To learn how COVID-19 is affecting SIUE and Madison County, check the university’s COVID-19 Dashboard.