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Allegheny County health official says going on Facebook, Twitter is not 'doing your own research' on COVID-19 vaccine

Gene J. Puskar

The head of Allegheny County’s health department says that misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine is, “literally killing people.”

More than 30% of eligible Allegheny County residents are still not fully vaccinated, and as a result 90 people died from COVID in September. This is the highest number of people to die from COVID in one month since April when 91 people died. Most of those who died in September were unvaccinated, including nine people between the ages of 25 and 49.

“These are young people,” said health department director Dr. Debra Bogen. “In most cases, had they gotten the vaccine, they would still be alive today. It pains me that we continue to report weekly deaths from COVID-19 when we have the means to prevent nearly all of them.”

Bogen said that many people remain unvaccinated due to conspiracy theories or bad information that they found online.

“I hear from the medical staff that, when they take care of the people with COVID-19, most choose to not get the vaccine because of misinformation. They quote, ‘Did their own research,’” said Bogen. “Reading Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or blog posts is not doing your own research.”

The department director noted that more than six billion doses of the COVID vaccines have been administered worldwide, showing that they are safe and effective. She encouraged people to seek out vigorously researched data published in scientific journals, or speak with their health care providers.

On a positive note, Bogen said that it seems that daily coronavirus cases counts in the county seem to be plateauing, and possibly declining. Cases are dropping both nationally and statewide. However, COVID hospitalizations in the Pittsburgh area are still increasing and will likely continue to do so for several weeks.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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