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Navigating COVID-19 Vaccine Information Online - Let's be FRANK

September 15, 2021

Steely Librarians’ FRANK strategies help information seekers separate fact from fiction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Woman with mask on looking at phone
Not sure if you should get the vaccine? Don’t let inaccurate or misleading information be the reason that stops you. At W. Frank Steely Library, Librarians teach FRANK strategies as part of the GEARUP program to help our community navigate an information environment that can often feel complex and chaotic. While FRANK strategies are applicable for all types of information, this guide is specifically tailored to help you investigate the credibility of COVID-19 vaccine information. 
F for Feelings

Check your emotions. Personal feelings about COVID-19 vaccines are STRONG. Everyone has an opinion. Be cautious that your opinions don’t keep you from listening to other ideas or even facts. Confirmation bias causes us to limit our information to only the sources that support our existing beliefs. Challenge yourself. Reading material that contradicts our beliefs is uncomfortable. However, we must push past the discomfort when in the pursuit of credible and reliable information.   

Did you know? According to research reported in the Washington Post, nearly 60% of individuals who share information on social media never read past the headline.  

R for Read Fact Checking Sites

Fact-checking is often already done for you. For example, the CDC and the WHO maintain vaccine fact-checking sites. If you’re not sure whether a claim that a resource makes is valid, these websites will verify or debunk many COVID-19 myths. 

A for Authority
Who wrote this source? An outspoken relative on social media or the director of the health department? There’s a difference. Ask yourself: Does the author have experience/education that makes them a reliable voice on the topic? Do the people quoted in the source have relevant or in-depth experience?    
N for New Tab
Read laterally. In other words, when reading a claim made in an article, open a new tab and search if other sources are making the same claim. Then, compare resources side-by-side to help determine whether you are looking at valid evidence. Never take the claims from one source as truth.  
K for Kind of Source
Know your news (and other types of information sources). Trustworthy journalism focuses on informing the public with known facts at the time of publication, not selling a product. Journalists aren't paid or compensated to promote the vaccine. So, if a news source or media personality is trying to sell you a product or idea, it is probably not credible for vaccine information, and it is best to keep searching. Look for news sources that present information without trying to sell you anything and are updated with new information as it becomes available.  

In the digital age, we are bombarded with information constantly. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when navigating news sources and sorting through social media posts to decipher what is credible and what is not. We hope this guide will help you find clarity and confidence when wading through information online.  

Talk to health experts or schedule a vaccination at NKU’s Health, Counseling, and Student Wellness.

NKU students, faculty, and staff are encouraged and eligible to register their vaccine status for a chance to win a monetary prize (excludes administrators). Check out NKU's COVID-19 page for more information.  

Additional Resources 

What is GEARUP? 

The university adopted GEARUP with Information Literacy as the Quality Enhancement Plan for 2019-2024. The five-year plan focuses on helping students Gather, Evaluate, Apply, and Respect information so that students graduate with the knowledge and skills to be critical information consumers and creators.