Misinformation is a key driver of vaccine hesitancy — but some debunking strategies can actually reinforce harmful myths. Follow these tips to squash false claims about vaccines:
- Avoid leading with misinformation — stating misinformation directly, even in a “myth vs. fact” format, can lead some readers to remember the myth rather than the fact.
- To debunk misinformation, use a “truth sandwich” approach — start with the fact, briefly mention the misinformation and why it's false, and finish by restating the truth in more detail and offering sources to back it up.
- Consult fact-checking organizations like Stronger to find reliable information around COVID-19 vaccine myths — and encourage others on campus to do the same.
The truth sandwich in action
If you’re trying to address the myth that COVID-19 vaccines can affect a woman’s fertility, you could say:
“There’s no evidence that getting a COVID-19 vaccine can affect your ability to have kids. There’s been confusion about this because of a false report that spread on social media. The report said that getting a COVID-19 vaccine could cause a woman’s body to attack the wrong spike protein — one that’s related to pregnancy. But the spike protein on the coronavirus and the one related to pregnancy are completely different, and your body knows that. If you want to learn more, I can point you to some resources.”
Make a plan to fight misinformation
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to mythbusting — so use a mix of strategies that make sense for your campus community. You can:
- Host a town hall where students can ask questions about vaccine information they've seen online
- Create a vaccine facts webpage on your school's website, to provide facts that debunk vaccine myths
- Keep an eye on trending vaccine myths in your campus community — ask student ambassadors and campus health staff to report back on specific misinformation they see circulating, and work together to craft a response that you can use consistently
- Post mythbusting social media content and graphics on your school's social accounts — just remember to use the truth sandwich format!
- Speak up when you hear misinformation. If you hear students or coworkers sharing misinformation, take the opportunity to set the record straight. You can use these fast facts to address common misconceptions about COVID-19 and the vaccines.