Surgeon general says he’s lost 10 family members to coronavirus
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday made a personal plea with Americans to get vaccinated and stop spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, revealing the toll the virus has taken on his family.
“It’s painful for me to know that nearly every death we are seeing now from COVID-19 could have been prevented,” Murthy said in remarks in the White House briefing room. “I say that as someone who has lost 10 family members to COVID-19, and who wishes each and every day that they had the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
“I say 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,” Murthy said.
Murthy testified during his confirmation hearing earlier this year that COVID-19 at that time had taken the lives of seven of his family members in the U.S. and India.
The surgeon general appeared at a White House briefing on Thursday hours after he issued an advisory calling health misinformation an “urgent threat” as the federal government looks for ways to overcome barriers to getting more Americans vaccinated.
The advisory calls on technology and social media companies to do more to fight misinformation on their platforms, including redesigning algorithms to avoid amplifying misinformation and bolstering efforts to monitor false information.
It also calls on news organizations to avoid sharing inaccurate or misleading information about vaccines and the pandemic, and it urges individuals to engage with friends and family.
Rising Republican vaccine resistance — and some lawmakers and conservative media hosts raising doubts about the vaccine — is also posing an obstacle in the fight against the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, health misinformation has led people to resist wearing masks in high-risk settings. It’s led them to turn down proven treatments and to choose not to get vaccinated,” Murthy said. “This has led to avoidable illnesses and death. Simply put, health misinformation has cost us lives.”