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Conspiracy website is spreading dangerous misinformation across social media that could make your urgent care center’s patients reluctant to get a flu shot.

The website, which is well known for spreading bogus rumors, has falsely reported that this year’s flu shot is unsafe, quoting an anonymous CDC doctor who allegedly said some of his patients died after receiving the vaccine. According to fact-checking website, this claim is false. Snopes says the CDC doctor who was quoted in the article doesn’t exist, and there’s no evidence the deaths referenced in the article were a result of receiving the flu shot.

While Snopes debunked the story fairly quickly, that didn’t stop people from hitting the “share” button on social media. That means some of your patients might’ve seen this fake news story while scrolling through their Facebook feed, potentially even sharing it with their friends and family. Since the article (erroneously) claims to have a legitimate source, there’s a chance some of your patients might believe the contents of the article are actually true.

Be Prepared to Respond to Patients

Urgent care providers need to be aware that this troubling misinformation is spreading through social media so they can be prepared to discuss it if a patient brings it up, especially since flu activity has been particularly high this year. Staff should be trained at all levels of the urgent care center on how to respond if a patient mentions these false claims that the flu shot causes death.

Some key points your urgent care center’s staff could use to respond to patients who are concerned about receiving the flu shot:

  • Extensive research has been conducted to ensure the safety of the flu vaccine, and severe reactions are extremely rare
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor the safety of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD)
  • While initial reports indicate the flu vaccine isn’t very effective against this year’s strain of the flu, the flu shot is still the best way to reduce your chance of getting the flu

The most important recommendation to give your staff is to respond to patients with compassion. It might seem obvious to you and your staff that the article is false, but your patients aren’t trained medical professionals. It is much harder for them to tell medical fact from fiction.

It is up to you and your urgent care center’s staff to help your patients understand how best to stay healthy this flu season, and it’s shaping up to be an extra-long one. According to the CDC, flu activity remains high, with all U.S. states except Hawaii reporting widespread, high flu activity. Activity is likely to continue for several more weeks, so it’s important for you and your staff to make sure your patients are well-informed on what’s being reported about the flu – both fake news and real.

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This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.

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