Knowing what misinformation is being shared can help you generate effective messaging.

These insights are based on a combination of automated media monitoring and manual review by public health data analysts. Media data are publicly available data from many sources, such as social media, broadcast television, newspapers and magazines, news websites, online video, blogs, and more. Public health data analysts from the PGP (The Public Good Projects) triangulate this data along with other data from fact checking organizations and investigative sources to provide an accurate, but not exhaustive, list of currently circulating misinformation.

Recommendations are organized into three categories:

  • Ignore: Focus on current communications priorities.
  • Passive Response: Be prepared to address if directly asked, and in certain cases consider updating FAQ’s and info sheets addressing common myths and misperceptions. Otherwise, continue to focus on current communications priorities.
  • Direct Response: Directly address this misinformation.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise due to the Delta variant, some social media users have resurrected the myth that the COVID-19 vaccines are responsible for new variants of the virus. One tweet that garnered over 23,400 engagements falsely claimed that there were no new variants until the vaccines were rolled out. Others have used health officials' recommendation that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in some situations as evidence that the vaccines do not work. It is important to remember that no vaccine can prevent 100 percent of infections. Although the vaccines are slightly less effective against the Delta variant, they are the best form of protection against COVID-19.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

A social media account with more than 240,000 followers posted claims that rising COVID-19 cases must be either fictitious or occurring among vaccinated people because those who are unvaccinated and don't wear masks also don’t get tested. This assertion is both illogical and untrue. The vast majority of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are among the unvaccinated. By most expert accounts, unvaccinated individuals make up more than 97 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99 percent of deaths.

Recommendation: Direct Response Read More +

A Wall Street Journal op-ed that has been shared more than 45,000 times on social media asserts that the CDC and FDA lack sufficient evidence to move forward with vaccination for children. The author is a physician associated with Johns Hopkins who has been outspoken in his opposition to the CDC and claims that data is being inflated to move the so-called vaccine agenda forward. The op-ed has been amplified by people known to spread conspiracy theories, using the author's credentials to validate the argument. In its guidance for parents, Johns Hopkins Medicine says "Experts, including those at Johns Hopkins, believe that the benefits of being vaccinated for COVID-19 outweigh the risks.”

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

A video with over three million likes on a popular video-sharing social media app claims that the vaccine recipient's breasts grew two cup sizes after getting the Pfizer shot. The video is one of many making similar claims on the platform, while a search of the term "Pfizer Boob" on Twitter turns up hundreds of tweets from people making similar claims or expressing hopes or fears of a similar reaction happening if they were to get the vaccine. A side effect of vaccination is the temporary swelling of the lymph nodes. Swelling of lymph nodes in the chest could potentially explain why some people experienced what they thought was increased breast size shortly after vaccination.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

Trending social media posts refer to a lawsuit against the federal government that alleges 45,000 people died over a period of three days after receiving the COVID-19 shot. The posts claim, without evidence, that the federal government is covering up these deaths in order to roll out mandatory vaccines for children. The lawsuit is purportedly based on self-reported and unconfirmed VAERS data, but the numbers do not match up with VAERS reports. Notably, the lawsuit was filed by America's Frontline Doctors, a group that has been shown to spread misinformation throughout the pandemic. The claims made in the group’s motion, which are not backed by any evidence, are meant to further discourage people from getting vaccinated.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

In a CNN town hall, President Joe Biden exaggerated the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines by assuring listeners that they would not get the virus if they were vaccinated. There are instances of fully vaccinated people who have tested positive for the virus, although the cases are rare and usually mild, and vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of infection, serious illness, and death. Getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect against COVID-19.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

Several popular social media posts have claimed that the Biden administration is sending federal agents door-to-door to coerce people to take “experimental” vaccines. In fact, the door-to-door vaccination outreach campaign will be carried out by community members who have volunteered to knock on doors and encourage vaccinations. Campaigns volunteers are trained in motivational interviewing strategies to foster open dialogues that allow community members to share their thoughts on the vaccines. Federal government employees are not going door-to-door for the campaign, and no vaccines are being administered as part of this campaign. Although the mRNA vaccines have been described as “experimental” by the vaccine opposition movement, they have been through rigorous testing in both animal studies and one of the largest human clinical trials in history; and studies continue.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

Last week, a guest on a popular political talk show falsely claimed that the effectiveness of COVID vaccines is rapidly declining and suggested that masks are “simply symbolic.” These claims are based on reports of breakthrough COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people. Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, which means that some vaccinated people will still get COVID-19. These cases are rare and usually quite mild. The vaccines have been remarkably effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death: For the past few months, only a tiny percentage of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. have been in vaccinated people.   

Efforts to discourage vaccination have only served to allow the virus to continue spreading and mutating, which could potentially result in a variant that is more effective against the vaccine. Think of the vaccine as a bulletproof vest, rather than a forcefield, against COVID-19. Masks offer another layer of protection, which is why public health officials promote vaccination along with other safety measures to control the spread of the virus.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

The host of an online conspiracy news show is seeking whistleblowers from the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the COVID-19 vaccines. The host alleges, without evidence, that chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci lied about vaccine safety and insists that the vaccines were developed too quickly. To incentivize potential whistleblowers,  the host referenced the False Claims Act, which rewards whistleblowers with up to 30 percent of proceeds collected from the alleged fraud. 

A common misconception about the COVID-19 vaccines is that they were developed too quickly to be safe. In reality, the rapid development of the vaccines was based on decades of mRNA research and extensive knowledge of coronaviruses, which have caused two epidemics in the last 20 years. 

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

After claiming that the Biden administration’s proposed door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination outreach campaign means that the federal government is tracking vaccination status and will mandate vaccines, people online are using a training course from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium as further evidence to support this debunked conspiracy theory. The training course, "MGT 433 Isolation and Quarantine for Rural Communities," is designed to "provide general knowledge necessary to begin planning for situations requiring the isolation and quarantine of a large portion of a local, rural population." Several social media users and websites that have previously been shown to share misinformation are falsely suggesting that the course is foreshadowing "quarantine camps," with some going so far as to compare it to slavery. The training course has existed for years and there is no evidence to suggest that it is in any way related to COVID-19 or the vaccine outreach campaign. Furthermore, training for public health emergencies, such as pandemics, is routine and a core function of public health.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

Knowing what misinformation is being shared can help you generate effective messaging.

These insights are based on a combination of automated media monitoring and manual review by public health data analysts. Media data are publicly available data from many sources, such as social media, broadcast television, newspapers and magazines, news websites, online video, blogs, and more. Public health data analysts from the PGP (The Public Good Projects) triangulate this data along with other data from fact checking organizations and investigative sources to provide an accurate, but not exhaustive, list of currently circulating misinformation.

Recommendations are provided, organized into three categories:
  • Ignore: Focus on current communications priorities.
  • Passive Response: Be prepared to address if directly asked, and in certain cases consider updating FAQ’s and info sheets addressing common myths and misperceptions. Otherwise, continue to focus on current communications priorities.
  • Direct Response: Directly address this misinformation.
Vaccine Misinformation Guide

Get practical tips for addressing misinformation in this new guide. Click image to download.

Vaccine Misinformation Guide

Get practical tips for addressing misinformation in this new guide. Click image to download, or see highlights