There is so much information available online today and one source may contradict another. This is particularly true with vaccine information. So, how do you figure out what is fact and what is fiction? Here are a couple of helpful hints:
- Look for expertise. Everyone has an opinion but not everyone’s opinion is based on science and facts. So look for people who are actually vaccine experts. Just because someone is a doctor, doesn’t make them an expert in vaccines. While pediatricians are probably pretty well versed in vaccines, an emergency room doctor probably isn’t.
- Look for established institutions. A lot of folks opposed to vaccines will call established institutions “mainstream” which is their code for part being of what they consider to be a problem. But here’s the facts: the established institutions are established because they conduct rigorous research. They base their recommendations on what the science tells them rather than crafting the science to support what they want to recommend. So look for those established institutions and don’t be swayed by “independent research.” The reality is that if research is not supported by an established institution, it’s probably because it isn’t scientifically rigorous.
- Beware of commercial sites. If a site is selling something, it has a financial stake in you believing what they are telling you. So be skeptical of a website that is selling supplements and other alternatives to vaccines. Their profit is tied to convincing you that vaccines are not good for your family.
- Understand and identify bias. Bias is when our opinions influence what we believe. There are all sorts of biases but the one most common on the internet is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when we interpret facts to confirm our existing beliefs. You see this all the time when someone will take a credible institution’s statement out of context to confirm what they want you to believe. Go back to the original content and make sure it’s really saying what the author wants you to believe.
- Consider the look and feel of a website. If it looks homegrown and amatuer, that’s not a good thing. When it comes to finding credible information, looks count because established institutions will create professional content. Google experts create homegrown sites.
- Check the links. Reputable websites will often link to each other and established institutions. But if the links are to a random website, beware.
- Check the date. With science, particularly with vaccine preventable outbreaks, the data evolves as scientists learn more. That’s a good thing because it means that experts are constantly striving to better understand things that can make us sick. So if the information you are looking at is old, it may be out of date and it’s also a signal that the website is not as credible as other websites because it is not providing the most current information.
So how do you know Voices for Vaccines is credible?
Using the above list, let us share with you some information.
- Our expertise. We have a scientific board that includes some of the nation’s most esteemed vaccine experts. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of experience and lead national vaccine programs.
- Established institutions. You’ll see that we link to the best research and medical institutions in the country – and many of our scientific board and staff come from these institutions.
- Commercial site. So that’s a big nope. We sell nothing because we want the facts to stand on their own. Our job is to get you the correct information, not to sell you something.
- Understand and identify bias. Check our links. Really, please check our links! We spend a lot of time reading the most up-to-date and credible information so we pride ourselves on providing some of the most credible and comprehensive information about vaccines. We don’t cherry pick information or misrepresent it. When you check our links you’ll find they say exactly what we say they do.
- Consider the look and feel of a website. We like our website and hope you do too. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking through the information you need to make an informed decision and how it should be presented to you to make it easiest for you to get what you need. Why do we do that? Because we’re a professional organization.
- Check the links. Again for the folks in the back, please check our links! We partner with some of the best public health and medical organizations in the nation. You’ll find links to their websites throughout our website.
- Check the date. We update our site regularly to make sure you are getting the best information possible.