Washington, DC – The following is a statement from J. Martin Tucker, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment:
“ACOG is grateful to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, for his timely report on the threat of health misinformation and its outsized, harmful impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Throughout the pandemic, misinformation has proliferated when it comes to COVID-19 and women’s health, especially specific to the COVID-19 vaccines. ACOG, its partners, and its members have worked hard to rebut dangerous myths—such as the lie that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or the conspiracy that the COVID-19 vaccines can shed to unvaccinated people, impacting their reproductive health. This misinformation has compromised our patients' health by discouraging many of them from receiving the life-saving vaccines. Misinformation may have also exacerbated the health inequities we have seen during the pandemic, particularly in communities of color. And with nearly all recent deaths from COVID-19 occurring among unvaccinated people, this health misinformation has cost lives.
“ACOG is especially aware of the dangers of health misinformation because the field of obstetrics and gynecology has long been the subject of mistruths and myths. These have led to underutilization of proven routine immunizations or other needed health interventions during pregnancy. They also have led to confusion about how contraceptives work—and how they prevent, rather than end, pregnancies. Further, misinformation about the provision of medical care has led our members and their patients to be targeted with threats of violence.
“We join the call for additional research to more comprehensively understand the real-life impact of health misinformation on our patients, and we will continue to do our part by communicating evidence-based, patient-centered information with the public and partnering with other organizations who share in that commitment. Discourse and shared decision-making are at the heart of clinical practice, and it is essential that those conversations be informed by reliable scientific information and transparent dialogue—not by dishonest interference.”