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More Than Half of Physicians Have Been Asked By Patients for an Unapproved COVID-19 Treatment


A new survey from Sermo, a physician-first online community and leader in global HCP insights, found that physicians are facing a challenging onslaught of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment misinformation as reported by 3,600+ doctors around the world.

81% of physicians reported feeling that social media misinformation has caused an existential crisis in their profession. More than half (54%) of physicians surveyed reported that a patient has asked them for an unapproved COVID-19 treatment such as Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. Also, more than half (55%) of physicians reported that COVID-19 vaccine misinformation is increasingly becoming an issue when meeting with patients.

Physicians are being bombarded with a variety of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. The most common misinformation they are hearing from patients is that vaccine safety and effectiveness cannot be trusted because researchers rushed the development of the vaccine, reported by 60% of physicians.

Other types of misinformation heard by physicians from patients include:

  • More than half (51%) of physicians reported hearing from patients that they don’t need a COVID-19 vaccine if they’ve already had Covid.
  • Misinformation about vaccines modifying your DNA continues to prevail. 45% of physicians reported hearing this from patients.
  • Conspiracy theories about microchips in vaccines have made their way to the doctor’s office as 29% of physicians reported hearing this from patients.
  • 1 in 5 (20%) physicians reported hearing from patients that the COVID-19 vaccine gives you COVID-19.
  • One-third of physicians (34%) reported hearing from patients that vaccines cause infertility. Physicians feel that vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women persists. 61% of physicians reported that pregnant patients are reluctant to get the vaccine.
  • COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is spilling over to other vaccines. 52% of surveyed physicians feel patients who have been hesitant to get COVID-19 vaccines will stop getting other vaccines.

“It’s clear from when we first launched the COVID-19 barometer at the start of the pandemic that misinformation is increasingly posing huge challenges to physicians when treating patients. Physicians feel like they are battling an infodemic that is threatening public health,” says Peter Kirk, Sermo CEO. “The barometer results clearly paint a picture that misinformation is showing up at appointments across the U.S. and the globe at a very local level.”

In addition to battling COVID-19 misinformation, surveyed physicians continue to report they are seeing a significant amount of reluctance among parents to get their kids vaccinated. 61% of physicians reported seeing patients more reluctant to vaccinate their children than themselves. Lack of long-term vaccine safety data in children (45%) was the leading reason physicians believed parents were reluctant to vaccinate their children. This is an increase from a previous Barometer survey fielded in November 2021 when 38% of physicians believed that lack of long-term vaccine safety data was keeping parents from vaccinating their children. 1 in 4 (23%) physicians believed that adverse effects and allergic reactions were a reason that parents weren’t vaccinating their children.

This survey was fielded as part 22 of Sermo’s COVID-19 Barometer and included more than 3,600 physician respondents between March 2 - March 3, 2022. To find out more about the findings of Sermo’s latest COVID-19 Real Time Barometer, visit

About Sermo:

Sermo turns physician experience, expertise, and observations into actionable insights for the global healthcare community. Engaging with more than 1.3 million HCPs across 150 countries, the company provides physicians with a social platform and unique community that fosters impactful peer-to-peer collaboration & discussions about issues that are important to them and their patients. Sermo offers on-demand access to physicians via a suite of proprietary technology to provide business intelligence that benefits pharmaceutical, healthcare partners, and the medical community at large. To learn more, visit

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