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US Surgeon General Murthy Says He Lost 10 Family Members to Covid; Urges Americans to Shed Vaccine Hesitancy

Millions of Americans are still not protected against Covid-19, and we are seeing more infections among those who are unvaccinated, Dr Vivek Murthy said.

Millions of Americans are still not protected against Covid-19, and we are seeing more infections among those who are unvaccinated, Dr Vivek Murthy said.

Launching a campaign against misinformation, the top Indian-American physician urged people to raise the bar for sharing health information by checking sources before they share it with others to ensure that the information is backed by credible scientific sources.

US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy has revealed that he lost as many as 10 family members, both here and in India, to the Covid-19 pandemic, making a strong case for Americans to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the deadly virus. Launching a campaign against misinformation, the top Indian-American physician urged people to raise the bar for sharing health information by checking sources before they share it with others to ensure that the information is backed by credible scientific sources. So far, 160 million Americans have been vaccinated, Murthy said, adding that is all good news. But we are not out of the woods yet. Millions of Americans are still not protected against Covid-19, and we are seeing more infections among those who are unvaccinated, he said at a White House briefing on Thursday.

On a personal note, it’s painful for me to know that nearly every death we are seeing now from Covid-19 could have been prevented," 44-year-old Murthy, who is occupying the position for the second time. “I say that as someone who has lost 10 family members to Covid-19 and who wishes each and every day that they had had the opportunity to get vaccinated, Murthy said.

I see that also as a concerned father of two young children who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, but I know that our kids are depending on all of us to get vaccinated to shield them from this virus, he added. Every week, I talk to doctors and nurses across the country who are burning out as they care for more and more patients with Covid-19 who never got vaccinated, all too often because they were misled by misinformation, he said.

In May, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 64 per cent of American adults have taken or want a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, 15 per cent will wait and see, and 19 per cent will either definitely not get one or only get one if it is required.We must confront misinformation as a nation. Every one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a difference in this fight. Lives are depending on it, said the top American doctor.

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He cautioned against sharing misinformation. As we say in the advisory, if you’re not sure, don’t share. Second, we’re asking health organisations to proactively address misinformation with their patients. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics is announcing an educational campaign to help parents navigate online health information. I’m encouraged to see this commitment. And again, this is just the beginning, he said.

Asking educational institutions to help improve health information literacy, he said the administration is asking technology companies to operate with greater transparency and accountability. We’re asking them to monitor misinformation more closely. We’re asking them to consistently take action against misinformation super spreaders on their platforms, he said.

Raised in Miami, Dr Murthy received his bachelor of arts degree from Harvard, his masters in business administration from the Yale School of Management, and his MD from the Yale School of Medicine. The US has the highest coronavirus case tally in the world at more than 33,974,200 and the highest death toll at over 608,300. Roughly 48.5 per cent of Americans are vaccinated. However, the US has missed benchmarks set by the Biden administration. The country failed to meet the goal of having 70 per cent of adult Americans with at least one shot by July 4. Demand for vaccines has also been slowing in the country, while daily infections have doubled in the past few weeks, with an average of roughly 24,000 cases per day, according to NBC News.

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first published:July 16, 2021, 12:15 IST