Check your sources

Internet hoaxes can sometimes be harmful, so please, get your vaccines

The old adage “you can’t believe everything you read” should be applied liberally when it comes to stuff you find on the Internet. That’s true on a daily basis with Web content, including so-called stories that crop up from disreputable news sites that people love spreading on social media as though they are valid.

Most of the time, the “stories” are of the banal clickbait variety, but every once in a while, something important is misrepresented and that false narrative takes hold. Case in point was a recent article with a headline saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued a warning to Americans to not get this year’s influenza vaccine. The problem, of course, is that it’s patently false. The CDC never issued such a statement.

The untruth was published on an alternative health site called Vibrations of Health, which took the info from yet another sketchy source. Tens of thousands of of people have shared the claim via social media. And though it’s been roundly debunked, the website has left the totally false and sensationalized headline on the Web.

It’s not a big deal when people share a hoax photo of a man-size cat or when unwitting people cut and paste long (and meaningless) legalese onto their timelines to supposedly protect their privacy after seeing info about Facebook changing its settings. But the CDC hoax is alarming, and so too are other similar false and potentially harmful messages.

In fact, the CDC is urging the public to get a flu vaccination this year. As always, vaccines build up our collective immunity and ultimately protect the frailer among us. So please, get your vaccines. And the next time you see that unbelievable headline, check the source.