Landecker Democracy Fellow Asha Shajahan, MD, MHSA is a primary care physician, the Graduate Medical Education Director of Social Equity and Health Disparities at Beaumont Health and the Medical Director of Community Health at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe in the USA. She serves as an assistant professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, MI, USA. She serves as an executive leader of the national grassroots vaccine campaign, #THISISOURSHOT. Asha proposes to equip doctors to be trusted digital messengers that can help guide evidence-based outcomes and advice for patients and families.
COVID-19 has amplified fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation. Public health and social justice have never been so closely intertwined as they are today. As a physician working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asha has observed the consequences of misinformation firsthand. COVID-19 misinformation is dangerous because of its health consequences, such as causing people to ignore social distancing, not wearing face masks, and, consequently, putting others at risk. Misinformation is causing panic, anger, polarization between political parties, illness, and even death.
COVID-19 has amplified fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation. Public health and social justice have never been so closely intertwined as they are today.
The simple guideline to wear a mask has been majorly politicized in the United States. This has resulted in a division within the general public about best practices. Unlike many other previous health crises, the consequences are that states, cities, and even individuals are left to fend for themselves using a confusing variety of information. If there was more political support for public health science, the vast spread of this virus may have been avoided. As a primary care physician, about 80% of Asha’s patients have scheduled appointments just to gain clarity on COVID-19 and now the vaccine. In addition to diagnosing and treating, her work has evolved into handling and clarifying misinformation. Patients want to get the facts from a physician on the frontlines. They ask questions such as, “Doctor, I read that vitamin D will kill the virus. Do I still need to wear a mask?” Asha tries to teach them how to sort through misinformation; a skill that now has a direct impact on their health.
Asha proposes to equip doctors with a fact-checking tool that can help guide evidence-based outcomes and advice.
People are skeptical about political agendas and are seeking information from their trusted doctors. However, the challenge to sift through misinformation is plaguing doctors as well. People working in healthcare do not always have the time, skills, or resources to accurately combat misinformation. Some healthcare workers are spreading misinformation themselves, often without realizing it. In addition, physicians are hesitant to take the digital media stage to address misinformation and further build trust with the public due to lack of training and unfamiliarity with digital platforms. Doctors have been discouraged to take the digital stage by the medical community as well. The reputation of “Hollywood” media doctors are frowned upon in the science community.
However, Asha believes that it’s time medicine evolves with the times and doctors need to meet patients where, on social media. This is why Asha proposes to equip doctors with a misinformation curriculum and digital toolkit with evidence-based recommendations and guidance for healthcare providers to not only combat misinformation in the clinical setting but to take the digital stage to reach patients around the world. Her focus will be in engaging healthcare providers in addressing misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccines.
Her focus will be in engaging healthcare providers in addressing misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, physicians are the most trusted messengers when it comes to advice about the vaccine. Physicians have a unique opportunity to be public health advocates to bring us to a COVID-free world. This tool would be created in collaboration with a national team of healthcare providers from the #THISISOURSHOT grassroots campaign in partnership with the PURPOSE/Verified initiative with the United Nations. She will be providing trainings for providers to do town halls “live” on social media, write op-eds, talk about science in an understandable way for the general public, fact check on digital spaces, share personal healthcare hero stories and ultimately elevate the voices of healthcare heroes to build vaccine trust for a COVID-free world.
In addition, Asha is working with a team from Harvard Global Health to bring together the best education and resources for healthcare providers on misinformation. This will be tested through medical education in an 8-hospital health system and offered for medical education across the country. Defending democracy includes public health and transparency of science. Involving the most trusted messengers, physicians, in the fight for accurate health information can and will save lives.
The Stethoscope is My Microphone
Senior Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan wrote an opinion piece for the Alfred Landecker Foundation.
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan Launches MisinfoRx
As part of her Landecker Project, Asha Shajahan collaborated on MisinfoRx, a new "toolkit” giving health care providers the knowledge and training to tackle patient-held medical misinformation.
Dr. Asha Shajahan's #ThisIsOurShot Cheddar News Interview
Landecker Fellow Dr. Asha Shajahan interviewed about the #ThisIsOurShot campaign combating vaccine misinformation.
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan - Addressing Misinformation Around COVID-19
Humanity in Action spoke to Dr. Asha Shajahan about her Fellowship project.
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan talks about ways to win over vaccine skeptics for Fox 2 Detroit
With cases of the Delta variant on the rise across the United States, Landecker Fellow Dr Asha Shajahan talks about ways to win over vaccine skeptics for Fox 2 Detroit.
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan Discusses Countering Digital Hate and Misinformation with Imran Ahmed
On June 22, Dr. Asha Shajahan discussed countering digital hate and misinformation with Imran Ahmed as part of the Tuesday Talks series of the This Is Our Shot initiative.
VP Kamala Harris welcomes #ThisIsOurShot executive team as founding members of COVID-19 Community Corps
Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellow Asha Shajahan is on the national executive board of the #ThisIsOurShot Campaign. US Vice President Kamala Harris recently named the #ThisIsOurShot Campaign as a founding member of the COVID-19 Community Corps, a network of organisations across the US that fight misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
Asha Shajahan plays critical role in training healthcare heroes in the #ThisIsOurShot Campaign: WFMZ-TV Article
Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellow Asha Shajahan is on the national executive board of the #ThisIsOurShot Campaign, which was recently featured in a WFMZ-TV article. The campaign aims to combat misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines.
Podcast on Medical Misinformation: Interview with Robert Skinner
In the recent episode of her podcast series "Beaumont HouseCall", Landecker Democracy Fellow Asha Shajahan interviewed Robert Skinner, Senior Special Advisor in the United Nations Department of Global Communications. They spoke about medical misinformation and the ways to push against it.
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan Combatting Misinformation about COVID-19: Washington Post Article
Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellow Asha Shajahan was recently featured in a Washington Post article about the front line workers fighting misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines online.
Podcast on Implicit Bias and Racism: Interview with Howard Ross Part II
Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan recently released a special episode of her podcast Beaumont HouseCall entitled "Implicit Bias and Racism." The episode is part two of Asha's interview with Howard Ross.
Podcast on Implicit Bias: Interview with Howard Ross
In a recent episode of her podcast Beaumont HouseCall, Landecker Fellow Asha Shajahan interviews Howard Ross, a best-selling author and life long social justice activist.
A code of living: protecting women's health during COVID-19
Landecker Fellow Dr. Asha Shajahan has started a monthly blog on Psychology Today, "combining purpose, knowledge, creativity, and health." She kickstarted her blog, Code of Living, with her first article "Protecting Women's Health During COVID-19."