Eye on KELOLAND: How to separate the good from the bad when looking at COVID-19 vaccine information

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved two COVID-19 vaccines.

Area health, political experts share insights in how to determine the good and bad information about the vaccines.

“These vaccines are very safe,” said Deidra Van Gilder, associate professor in South Dakota State University’s College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions. “In the United States the FDA isn’t going to let a vaccine be given to the general public if it’s not considered safe. Also, the side effects that you would potentially experience from these vaccines are going to be similar to any vaccine side effects that would be routinely given in the United States.”

“I would tell you that I have my full confidence behind both of those vaccines,” said Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, chief physician with Sanford Health.

“From a safety standpoint on these vaccines, we’ve also been pretty pleased with the data that have come out,” said Dr. David Basel, vice president of clinical quality with Avera Medical Group. “There’s really been no serious adverse effects that have come out on these vaccines.”

David Earnest is chair of the department of political science at the University of South Dakota. He has a similar take on the vaccines.

“I have no reservations whatsoever,” Earnest said.

“The biggest thing that I encourage patients to do when it comes to combating false information about the COVID-19 vaccine would be to contact health care providers that are able to give factual information, so whether it is their physician, their pharmacist, they’re going to have that factual information,” Van Gilder said.

“I think I would handle it the same way you handle any information you get on social media,” Cauwels said. “The most important thing is to verify it with a trusted source.”

“It’s really about the source, and what is the trustworthiness of the source, and so my source of truth for pretty much all things related to COVID have been the CDC,” Basel said.

Earnest offers a test.

“Here at USD we actually teach students those discernment skills to discern what’s a quality source and what’s not,” Earnest said. “And the basic rule is editorial control. Have multiple people evaluated a claim before it’s published?”

Cauwels and Basel each independently addressed the same bad information.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen, especially in our younger populations, are concerns about fertility, and why this particular rumor took off more than others, I’m not quite sure,” Cauwels said.

“One of the biggest ones I’ve seen kind of passed around on social media is the question about fertility,” Basel said. “This is going to, this vaccine’s going to affect our fertility or cause miscarriages in some fashion, and I’ve actually had that, a couple links passed to me that state this claim, and they’re really pretty professional-looking websites.”

But the quality of the information is poor.

“The science that people use to report this myth on social media is really the result of one physician in Britain who has taken this stance, and it has been refuted and dispelled,” Cauwels said.

“It’s totally unfounded, there’s no reason to think that it would have any effect on fertility,” Basel said.

But, he says, a vaccine is part of a solution.

“Until we get 70, 80% of the population vaccinated, we’re not going to get COVID to go away, we’re not going to be able to get rid of these darn masks, be able to start going back out to eat routinely, and the economy’s not going to get going full-blast until we all get ourselves vaccinated,” Basel said.

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