US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy, an Indian-American, on Thursday said he lost as many as 10 family members both here and in India to the COVID-19 pandemic. Murthy, who is occupying the position for the second time, said this at a White House briefing making a strong case for people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from the deadly virus.
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. 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,ö 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.
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. So far, 160 million Americans have been vaccinated, he 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.
Launching a campaign against misinformation, Murthy 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.
As we say in the advisory, if you're not sure, don't share. Second, we're asking health organizations 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,ö 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.