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Sentara counters vaccine misinformation

Sentara Healthcare has launched a new website to counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines as COVID-19 positivity rates rise due largely to the Delta variant.

According to the University of Virginia’s COVID-19 modeling, 25 of the state’s 35 health districts, including Western Tidewater, are experiencing surges in cases, with models projecting case counts that could exceed January’s peak.

However, with the percentages of state residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at 54.6%, and in all Western Tidewater localities — inclusive of Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County, Surry County and Southampton County — between 37% and 49%, Sentara notes that vaccination rates have plateaued across the country and in the Virginia and North Carolina communities it serves, “largely due to concerns, questions and myths about the vaccine safety and development.”

According to the Aug. 6 update, citing Virginia Department of Health data through July 25, an average daily count of 7,294 people received first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,873 people, on average, received second doses.

Sentara said it is seeing increases in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, citing variants spreading through unvaccinated people.

Its website, https://www.sentara.com/lp/VaxUp/landing.aspx, has information on facts versus myths of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Delta variant, video testimonials of people who have received the vaccine and other resources for unvaccinated people as they consider whether to get the vaccine.

At the top of the website, Sentara calls for people to “trust the facts,” and notes that people may not have received a COVID-19 vaccine “for a number of different, and personal, reasons.”

On the website, it states that the information it is providing has been compiled and reviewed by Sentara Healthcare clinical experts who used trusted medical sources such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and others.

It addresses 13 myths about vaccines, and offers other information about them designed to reduce hesitancy toward them and get more people to receive them. Its information is in English and Spanish.