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Combating Misinformation and Disinformation in the Social Media Era

What spreads faster than COVID-19? Misinformation on COVID-19. Misinformation (false information shared unconsciously) and disinformation (false information shared consciously to cause harm) are in fact harbingers of the modern pandemic. So how did we get here? 

The year 2020 hit us with a massive global health threat, and along with it, extreme socioeconomic damage. When this is the case, the mass population can react out of fear. Disinformation is just a reflection of societal anxieties. In the history of pandemics (the Bubonic Plague, the “Black Death,” the Columbian Exchange, and the Spanish flu), these anxieties were often projected onto other groups or nations as an attempt to distance fear. 

Misinformation dominating the pandemic response is nothing new, and this era of disinformation and scapegoating echoes historical patterns. That said, pandemic responses have deadly consequences. In an era where social media spreads misinformation at viral speeds, it’s time to treat the “infodemic” like the health threat it is. 

History as an Example 

During World War I, the outbreak of a new virus spread through troops, ramping up fear and threatening morale. The “Spanish Flu” (which more likely originated in Kansas) erupted as one of the deadliest outbreaks in history, killing an estimated 50 to 100 million people. 

NPHIC Blog Posts

COVID-19 vs. the Flu: What You Should Know

COVID-19 vs. the Flu: What You Should Know

As the novel coronavirus approaches its second birthday, health experts and policymakers have been quietly wondering whether it may be time for the world’s population to begin adapting to the reality that the coronavirus will be present indefinitely. In other words, the virus may never be fully eradicated.

Another way of asking this question is to posit: In the future, will the SARS-CoV-2 virus be one of our endemic seasonal enemies, co-existing with us in the same way that we tolerate the ever-changing influenza virus?

Read on to learn why our world may need to adapt to the idea that the novel coronavirus will eventually be rolled into the fold of our perennial infectious disease foes.


COVID-19 Vaccines for Children 12+ Years of Age

COVID-19 Vaccines for Children 12+ Years of Age

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more than four million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19. That's over 14% of all cases.

In the United States, individuals have received over 317 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine between December 14, 2020, and June 21, 2021. As a result, many states are now advocating for vaccinations among children 12 years of age and older.



When I first started as a Public Information Officer (PIO) at a county health department, I was transitioning from a career in Public Relations (PR) at a local hospital. Most instances in PR, my job was to be "reactive." To react to a news article, provide a quote defending a negative situation, or to promote the hospital as a place to go to for treatment – after you have cancer, or after you break your leg.

As a new PIO for the health department, I adjusted to the work of promoting services to prevent disease and promote healthy lifestyles – it was a "preventative" way of thinking.