It can be hard to distinguish which vaccine information websites are credible and trustworthy. Often we judge a website by its flashy elements, cute photos, high-profile celebrity endorsements or general functionality. Just as we can't judge a book by its cover, we must dig into a website in order to learn whether it is a good source of credible information.
Here are some tips to help you evaluate if a website is credible and trustworthy:
- Find the “About Us” link on the site – This is usually at the very top or the very bottom of the home page. Read what the site says their purpose is and what they believe in. Also read the organization's mission to glean more information.
- Google the authors on the site – Learn more about the site contributor's qualifications, credentials and connections to the subject.
- Look for a profit bias - Is the site selling or promoting a product? Does the site take a stand on an issue without being clear that they are an advocacy site? Bias is not necessarily bad, but it should be stated clearly and with intent.
- Check the dates on the information – Especially in vaccine research it is imperative that the information on the site is current and accurate. New vaccine information, findings and discoveries are constantly being published. Make sure you are reading the most current research and data.
- See the destination of site links and the site’s sponsors – Click around and see what the site is endorsing and linking to as credible sources. Also look for sponsors on the site as these are a strong indicator of what organizations agree with the site's mission.
- If it is a nonprofit organization, look up their Guidestar profile - Guidestar is a free online database of over 1.8 million IRS recognized tax-exempt organizations. This site pulls together IRS information on the organization's donors, financial stability and more. See where an organization is getting their funding.
- Contact the site – If you are still unsure of a site's credibility send them a note asking them to send you more information.