“We know that health misinformation harms people's health. It costs them their lives,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Sunday morning. “I have seen that as a doctor over the years, as patients have struggled with health misinformation.”
“And here's the key thing to remember,' he added when speaking with State of the Union host Dana Bash, “health misinformation takes away our freedom and our power to make decisions for us and for our families. And that's a problem.”
The deflection in responsibility also follows the administration missing Biden's July 4 deadline to administer at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 70 percent of American adults and have 160 million fully vaccinated by the mid-summer holiday.
Murthy also defended the administration lifting mask requirements for vaccinated people after receiving criticism for acting too quickly now that case loads are rising in areas where rates are low and other areas where variants are running rampant.
“But, with that said, I think the CDC guidance around masks was intended actually to give flexibility to individuals and to localities, recognizing that,” Murthy explained.
The surgeon general said it's now in the hands of local governments and private entities to decide how they want to handle certain aspects of dealing with the pandemic moving forward, including if they want to require masks – even for immunized individuals.
“When you see places like L.A. County and other parts of the country, where you see counties making decisions about masks that may be different from other countries, that's okay,' Murthy said. 'They're doing that based on what's happening in their communities, based on vaccination rates and case counts.”
Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the vaccine matter on Sunday: “He's way behind schedule, and people are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don't trust his Administration, they don't trust the Election results, and they certainly don't trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth,” Trump wrote in a statement.
The vaccination rate has plateaued around the 68 per cent mark in adults. Children under the age of 12 have still not been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to get the vaccine, which is still under emergency use authorization rather than gotten full approval from the federal agency.
Vivek said while he has praised social media privately for their efforts, he has a message for them: “It's not enough.”
A Facebook vice president defended the platform and lashed out at the administration after Biden used social media as a scapegoat for the decline in vaccination rates.
“The data shows that 85% of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Guy Rosen posted in a lengthy corporate blog post on Saturday.
“The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days” Facebook wrote in a defensive posting.