Physicians who intentionally spread misinformation or disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines could be disciplined by state medical boards and may have their licenses suspended or taken away, said the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).
Due “to a dramatic increase in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation by physicians and other health care professionals on social media platforms, online and in the media,” the FSMB, a national nonprofit representing medical boards that license and discipline allopathic and osteopathic physicians, issued the following statement:
“Physicians who willfully generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license. Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore have a powerful platform in society, whether they recognize it or not. They also have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients and must share information that is factual, scientifically grounded and consensus driven for the betterment of public health. Spreading inaccurate COVID-19 vaccine information contradicts that responsibility, threatens to further erode public trust in the medical profession and puts all patients at risk.”
The FSMB is aiming to remind physicians that words matter, that they have a platform, and that misinformation and disinformation — especially within the context of the pandemic — can cause harm, said president and CEO Humayun Chaudhry, DO. “I hope that physicians and other licensees get the message,” he added.
Vaccine resistance and hesitancy across the country have concerned the group, noted Chaudhry, as have reports of disinformation and misinformation being spread by physicians.
Because of the somewhat stagnant national vaccination rate and spreading Delta variant, Chaudhry is “really concerned” about more mutations and variants emerging, he said, “to the point where we may have a situation in hand where the vaccine isn’t even effective.” The U.S. is “not there now,” he added, but the vaccines are a key piece in preventing that.…
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