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Beacon of HOPE Wellness Committee: How to check your Internet information on vaccines

May 15, 2019
By LINDA BESSETTE (Special to The Eagle) , Pine Island Eagle

Some of the most devastating diseases that affect children have been greatly reduced or even eradicated thanks to vaccines. Their safely and efficacy is under constant study to continue to keep them safe. It is a fact that vaccines save lives and protect others against the spread of disease.

In recent years, a number of websites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information have been established which can lead to undue fears, especially among parents and children. How do you know what is true and what is not?

Acknowledging these issues, key non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization, initiated in 2003, The Vaccine Safety Net Project. Their mission is to help internet users find reliable and accurate vaccine information. A key player in the project is the Global Advisory Committee established by the WHO in 1999 to respond to vaccine safety issues.

Before considering any vaccine safety issues on the Web, a fact sheet helping us to navigate sites, critique information and to help us with what questions to ask was developed.

1. Who owns and manages the website? What is their motivation and who is paying them to promote the information?

2. Does the website clearly state its purpose?

3. Is the information based on a sound scientific study?

4. Does the information make sense? What is the original source of online information? If not, then it should be identified so you can find the original source.

5. Does the website weigh evidence and describe limits of research?

6. Is the website filled with junk science and conspiracy theories?

7. Are the people or groups giving you the information qualified to address this subject? Most health information publications have someone with medical or scientific review it before posting. This should be noted on the site.

8. What is the website's privacy policy?

9. How current is the information? There should be a date when the information was posted or last reviewed.

10. Does the website direct you to additional information? Informed persons working together with healthcare providers are the key players in keeping everyone healthy.

Trusted sites of information are: the American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Every Child by Two, History of Vaccines, Immunization Action Coalition, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Vaxopedia, and World Health Organization.

The Beacon of HOPE is located at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City. For additional information, call 239-283-5123.



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