How to spot COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

March 09, 2021

Misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines is rampant, especially on social media. How can you tell what’s true and what’s not? 

As part of Penn State’s “COVID-19 Vaccines: Asked & Answered” series, S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, provides tips for determining whether information can be trusted.

COVID-19 Asked & Answered: Detecting Vaccine Misinformation

Misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines is rampant, especially on social media. How can you tell what’s true and what’s not? As part of Penn State’s “COVID-19 Vaccines: Asked & Answered” series, S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects, provides tips for determining whether information can be trusted.

Penn State
  • Check the source – If it comes from an official source, like the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, or National Institutes of Health, it can be trusted. 
  • Check if mainstream media, like major newspapers and television channels, have covered the information, and make sure that more than one media source is saying the same thing. 
  • Think critically – Be aware of superficial suggestions of authority and expertise. Just because someone uses the words “research” or “doctors” does not mean it is sound science. 
  • Check your own biases – Confirmation bias, or the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs, can interfere with the ability to evaluate information objectively. 

“There’s a lot of information out there about COVID-19 vaccines, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed because that information is constantly being updated,” Sundar says. But remembering these tips, he adds, can help you spot vaccine misinformation. 

Last Updated March 09, 2021