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Doing Homework on Vaccines this Back-to-School Season? Here are 10 Ways to Separate Fact from Fiction

Sep 01, 2022 | Kaye Hayes

A new school year is an exciting, yet busy time. There are supplies to buy, schedules to plan, and forms to complete. And there are things to do to keep children healthy so they can stay in school. Vaccines help keep your child healthy. Routine vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect children against 17 harmful diseases, like chickenpox and measles, to name just two.

Most parents agree that vaccines are important, but not all children have all the vaccines they need. Some parents have questions about routine vaccines and aren’t sure what information they can trust. This back-to-school season, children don’t have to be the only students. Parents can do their own homework on vaccines. Learn how to separate vaccine fact from fiction using this checklist.

  1. Check the source. Examples of trustworthy sources are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, or your local health department. The “about us” page on a website or the “about” section of a social media profile are ways to check the source.
  2. Confirm if a social media account is real. One way to know is by looking for a blue checknext to the account name. The blue check means that the social media company has verified that an account is authentic. A social media account may be fake
    if it is missing information or contains a long series of numbers.
  3. See if the author or person quoted is an expert on the subject. Search for their name online to learn their background.
  4. Look at the purpose of the information. Is the author trying to inform or educate you? Are they selling or promoting something? Are they trying to get you to agree with them? If the purpose of the information seems suspicious, look for another source.
  5. Consider how the information makes you feel. Does it make you angry? Frightened? Surprised? Like you want to share it right away? Some sources that are not trustworthy try to make you feel this way. It’s smart to question information like this.
  6. Check the date to be sure the information is current. Information that’s old may not be correct.
  7. See if the information cites other trustworthy sources. Information that includes links to or quotes from other trustworthy sources is more likely to be correct as long as the quotes are not taken out of context.
  8. Look for warning labels on social media posts. Companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter put warning labels on posts that may contain false information.
  9. Double-check the information. The first results in an online search aren’t always the most reliable. And “news” shared on social media may not be true. See if you can find the same information from a trustworthy source like CDC or your local public health department.
  10. Still not sure? Ask your child’s doctor or nurse. They are experts you can trust. For information from a credible vaccine source, visit Vaccines Protect You | HHS.gov.

We all want to protect our kids and make sure they are healthy for back-to-school. This is why parents ask questions and do their research. This printable checklist will help you make the most of your back-to-school plans so you can make a decision based on fact, and not fiction.

You can learn more about the routine vaccine schedule, and why it gives your child the best possible protection when they need it the most. For example, before your child is exposed to a serious, and preventable, disease and when their immune system will work best to protect your child.

You can also more about how routine vaccination protects children and back-to-school tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


About Kaye Hayes

Guest Blogger - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease and the Director of the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More posts by Kaye Hayes

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