Stop the Spread of Vaccine Misinformation in Your Community

October 08, 2021

We live in an age of open access to an unlimited amount of information. Unfortunately, not everything we have access to is worth knowing.

In the time of COVID-19, tools that are immensely helpful in sharing facts, promoting vaccination, and providing information about immunization events, are the same tools others are using to discourage getting the vaccines.

The only way we will ever be able to throw off our masks and return to the lives we had before the pandemic will be by wiping out this virus. And we can’t beat COVID without being vaccinated.

What is misinformation

Misinformation and disinformation are similar. They are both the sharing of incorrect information. Misinformation is usually the result of a mistake or ignorance. Disinformation is the purposeful spread of incorrect information.

Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have been combatting misinformation by putting warning labels on certain posts, then providing links to trusted resources. They will also suspend or even block accounts that consistently publish false information.

Other channels like Whats App and YouTube are harder to monitor. Additionally, a lot of information is coming from outside the U.S. including Central and South America, and Europe. Some foreign powers have also been using disinformation about the vaccines and safety measures to divide people in the U.S. As a response, YouTube recently removed what is referred to as its “Disinformation Dozen” channels that previously promoted vaccine misinformation.

Fake News

Spotting incorrect information

There are things to look for in the information shared online, on the airwaves, in print, or in person. Here are some examples of how fiction can appear to be fact:

  • Conspiracies — People will argue there is some greater power behind either the spread of the virus or efforts to get everyone vaccinated. For example, the vaccine contains a microchip.
  • Fake science — Using scientific concepts as the basis for misinformation. For example, the vaccine works by giving you COVID-19.
  • Faulty logic — People will use arguments that can be proven wrong with reasoning. These are often called fallacies. For example, people still get COVID-19 despite being vaccinated so no one should bother to get vaccinated.
  • Fear and manipulation — Using language to scare you. For example, they are deporting people when they show up to get vaccinated.
  • Hate or dog whistles — Dog whistles are when suggestive language is used to divide groups. For example, Asians brought this to America.
  • Lacks context — They include an element of truth without giving the bigger picture. For example, the vaccines aren’t guaranteed to keep you from getting COVID-19.

People will overplay side effects and talk about rare cases as if they happen all the time. For example, some may make a big deal about fully vaccinated people getting COVID-19. These are called breakthrough infections. They can occur, but studies show fully vaccinated people are eight times less likely to be infected and 25 times less likely to experience hospitalization or death. The majority of breakthrough cases occur in people with compromised immune systems.

People Talk

Fighting back against misinformation

People trust information they get from familiar sources. Family, friends, health care experts, and community leaders are where people will often turn to get the facts. If you have that level of influence it’s important that you promote accurate information and not share manipulated, false, or misleading content on social media channels.

The World Health Organization provides a mythbusters site to address every inaccurate piece of information that’s been issued about COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration also has a site dedicated to the vaccines. It has videos addressing frequently asked questions, how the vaccines were developed, tested, and more information in a variety of languages.

Focus on the facts

AltaMed has partnered with the National Conference on Citizenship’s Institute for Algorithmic Transparency to launch a disinformation reporting tool, via their Junkipedia page. Click here to learn more or report disinformation using our tip lines below. Understanding and addressing misinformation in our communities is a shared civic responsibility. Do your part by reporting tips online or to the following:

Text: (213) 810-3280
Email: altamed@tips.junkipedia.org
WhatsApp: (202) 301-3280

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National Voter Registration Day: Take the First Step to Build a Better Democracy and Better Communities

September 22, 2021

The right to vote is under attack. Efforts are underway across the country to make it more difficult to vote, especially for people of color who rely on extended voting hours, polling locations that are open on Sundays, and the ability to vote without having to present photo identification.

You can register to vote in California any time, but you must be registered by specific dates to participate in certain elections. For example, you need to be registered by May 23, 2022, to participate in the statewide primary election. However, while it is important to be aware of any voter registration deadlines, all eligible people can register to vote at any time.

September is also the month where organization throughout the country celebrate National Voter Registration Day, which is on September 28 this year. It’s important that you register to vote or verify that your information is correct and up to date. If you are already registered to vote, encourage your friends and family who are eligible to do the same. 

Comunity

What’s at stake

Your vote is your voice on serious issues affecting housing, education, employment, climate change, and health care as well as electing leaders that will champion these agendas. 

Statistics from the Census Bureau show that of the 11.4 million eligible Latinos in California, only 5.1 million are currently registered to vote. If every eligible Latino registered to vote, it would create a massive voting block with the ability to influence important issues and drive change. 

Often, hugely impactful legislation can succeed or fail based on a small number of votes. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 was passed in Congress by a razor thin 51-49% margin, with 219 ‘Aye’ votes vs. 212 ‘No’s.

That’s why when it comes to voting for local, state, congressional, and even federal leaders, every vote matters. It’s important during elections to learn about the measures and the candidates. If you don’t vote others will be electing leaders for you, that can make all the difference between an important law passing or failing. Laws that impact our everyday lives and communities.

It’s also your tax dollars at work. In some cases, voters can vote on bonds and certain measures which impact how taxes are spent. Through your vote you can have a say on local measures to determine how those tax dollars are put to work. For example, to maintain public parks or fund school construction projects. 

The pandemic has created significant challenges for voters of color throughout the nation as polling places and voter registration sites became less accessible and we saw the rapid spread of disinformation in our communities. Fortunately, we’ve also seen increased participation rates across the board. This is proof that our community, even when faced with the challenges and devastation of a global pandemic, have felt significantly empowered to make their voices heard. 

As we head into important elections in 2022 and 2024, AltaMed is steadfast in our commitment to help ensure that patients and our surrounding communities are registered, informed, and empowered to vote. 

On Thursday, September 30, AltaMed is hosting a National Voter Registration Day webinar where panelists will discuss voter engagement efforts and how to combat misinformation as we prepare for the 2022 midterm elections.

To register for the webinar, click here

Register

To find whether you are registered to vote, how to register to vote, and information about what is on your ballot, visit the League of Women Voters bilingual informational website – vote411.org or call NALEO Educational Fund’s bilingual voter information hotline at (888) VE-Y-VOTA. Remember that in the state of California registering to vote is easy, safe, and you can do it online!
 

Busting Myths Around Screen Time: Balance is Key During Quarantine

May 06, 2020

Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, many of us are now working, playing, socializing, and going to school online. That’s a lot of screen time. And you may be wondering if all of that time spent looking down at a laptop, cellphone, or tablet is good for you.

The answers aren’t always easy. In a nutshell, spending 6, 8, or 10 hours online every day isn’t great for you, but you may be able to undo some of the harmful effects. Read on to learn more about common screen-related problems and how you can fix them.

The Myth: Increased Screen Time Can Lead to Weight Gain, Diabetes, and Other Health Problems

man playing video games

The Truth: There’s scientific evidence that too much sitting – whether it’s in front of a screen, on a couch, or behind the wheel of a car – can lead to heart disease, a shorter life, weight gain, increased risk of dementia, and many other health problems.

With increased screen time, you’re probably seeing more online ads and commercials for fast food, snacks, and other unhealthy products. These ads can stick in your brain and influence what you buy later.

Finally, there is a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. If your device use affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep, then you may be eating more, moving less, and gaining weight.

The Solution: Include more movement in your day. Even if you’re having a difficult time with vigorous exercise, just start moving as much as you can. At least once an hour, get up from your computer and walk a lap around your house. And read on for tips to keep your devices from keeping you up at night.

The Myth: Too Much Screen Time Interferes with Your Sleep

woman writing a document

The Truth: This is true, for a number of reasons:

  1. First, your devices give off a light that may keep you up or make it harder for you to shut your brain off.
  2. If you spend too much time reading the news and worrying about the day’s events, that can also cause you anxiety and make it harder to sleep.
  3. Finally, if you find yourself consistently binging content or texting in bed when you should be asleep, you could be throwing your schedule off, making it more difficult to get restful sleep.

The Solution: Put your devices down at least an hour before bedtime, but if you absolutely, positively need to be on your phone, switch your apps over to dark mode, which is easier on your eyes, your brain, and your phone’s battery life. Also, set limits on the amount of news you see.

The Myth: Staring at a Computer All Day is Bad for the Eyes

boy using an smartphone with his father

The Truth: Finally, some good news! Increased screen time won’t permanently ruin your eyes, and no one has ever gone blind just by staring at their phone all day. But you can get temporary eye strain, discomfort, and even headaches.

The Solution: You can take steps to correct the strain and protect your eye health. One easy thing you can do is simply to blink more often! This will help refresh and moisten your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, try switching to glasses (if you have them) or working without your contacts. A few simple changes to how you work at your computer can prevent eye strain as well as headaches and backaches, too. Believe it or not, sore, dry eyes can lead to an achy back, so try these stretches and exercises to keep your spine mobile.

The Myth: Too Much Screen Time Hurts Kids’ Brains

back of a kid watching tv and wearing headphones

The Truth: An excess amount of screen time can harm young, developing brains. Studies have found too many hours in front of a device can lead to developmental delays, poor social skills, behavioral problems, and a general feeling of unhappiness or a lack of well-being.

The Solution: For younger children, limit their screen time to the absolute minimum. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed these guidelines:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, no more than one hour per day.
  • For children over the age of 6, set limits on the time as well as which devices and content, and make sure this time doesn’t interfere with getting enough sleep and physical activity.

Work with your children so they’re doing as much schoolwork offline as they can. Encourage physical play and exercise – get outdoors as much as possible, while still being safe. Make screen-free family time a priority, and do as much IRL (“in real life”) socializing as you can safely, paying attention to the latest recommendations from our mayor and governor.

Set a Good Example for Your Family

mother and daughter speaking at the table

We understand how essential phones, tablets, and computers are right now, but as so many of us are battling isolation and loneliness, do what you can to connect with those in your household. Create device-free times throughout the day – and even no-phone-zones throughout your house (for example, at the dinner table).

We’ll get through this – and until we do, AltaMed is here for all of your family’s health needs. We’re even offering appointments by phone to help you grow healthy, no matter what.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.