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.

Claims of unvaccinated people experiencing adverse health events from being in close proximity to someone who has been vaccinated from COVID-19 continue to be widely shared across social media. While previous claims have focused specifically on reproductive issues, this week's claims focused on how and why the vaccines are apparently causing these effects. Several posts falsely suggest that the spike protein produced by COVID-19 vaccines can be shed through breath, pores, saliva, sweat, etc., causing COVID-19, reproductive health issues, and other health complications. Some posts claimed that the vaccines are "self-spreading" for the purpose of "intentional transmission" as part of a depopulation agenda.

Recommendation: Direct Response Read More +

In April, a manipulated graphic shared on social media and falsely attributed to the CDC stated that refusing COVID-19 vaccines is a form of racism because COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color. The exact origin of the manipulated graphic is unknown but it seems to take a well-intentioned argument for vaccination, namely that vaccination protects you and others around you, and then promotes a false equivalency, namely that not getting immunized is a racist act. Individuals' motivations for getting vaccinated vary, as do individuals’ motivations for not getting vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy is a spectrum, as is vaccine confidence. What motivates one person may not motivate another, but attempting to motivate immunization through accusations has not been shown to be an effective strategy in community health.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

A popular Instagram user who gained a following in part by calling out Big Pharma recently claimed that herd immunity through vaccines does not exist. The post makes a distinction between “natural” herd immunity through infection vs. herd immunity through vaccination, claiming that the latter doesn't work. The post includes four false pieces of evidence to back up the claim, including that 100% vaccination rates are required to achieve herd immunity and the promotion of natural infection as a safer alternative to vaccination.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

On a recent episode of a popular podcast, the host suggested that young people do not need to worry about getting a COVID-19 vaccine if they are healthy, exercise, and eat well. Many experts have stated that this claim is incorrect, especially as young people are increasingly accounting for COVID-19 cases. While young people may have a lower chance of developing severe illness and dying from the virus, there is no guarantee that they will experience mild illness, and teens and young adults do spread the virus to older age groups. Experts are encouraging young people to consider those around them who may be at risk of severe illness, and to get vaccinated to protect them. Widespread condemnation of the host’s comments resulted in their clarifying they are not against vaccines, and have no expertise in medicine or public health. However, the host’s inaccurate claims were widely shared across social networks.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

An article reported on last week, published in a journal that provides “theoretical papers" continues to be shared across social media, with claims that masks cause physical and mental harm to their wearers. The article lists over twenty negative health outcomes purportedly caused by mask-wearing. The article is circulating widely on social media and fake news sites, shared by anti-vaccine, anti-government, and conspiracy groups as a “study” that validates anti-mask beliefs. There is scientific consensus that mask-wearing is an essential, simple, and safe measure to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases transmissible by air / respiratory droplets. Misappropriating valid scientific terms and phrases, such as using the term “study” in reference to an article without peer review, is a common tactic employed by anti-vaccine and conspiracy groups. The tactic is used to create a false equivalence between unscientific and scientific arguments.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

A research article published in January in a journal flagged by experts as not adhering to rigorous peer review is again circulating through social media. The article claims that RNA-based vaccines were approved prematurely, and that they can cause neurological degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's. There is consensus among health authorities and vaccine experts that these claims are baseless; the author has previously asserted false links between health conditions and vaccines.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

A private school in Florida recently sent a letter to faculty and staff, discouraging COVID-19 vaccination and stating that those who have been vaccinated will not be allowed to have contact with students, and may not be re-employed in the upcoming school year. This decision appears to be based on previously debunked misinformation that incorrectly claimed close physical proximity to an individual vaccinated against COVID-19 is sufficient to cause reproductive issues such as irregular menstrual cycles. The school’s announcement was circulated widely on social media.

Recommendation: Passive Response Read More +

Claims that consuming raw onion will cure COVID-19 are circulating on social media. The World Health Organization and other health authorities have previously stated onions cannot cure COVID-19. These claims are reminiscent of a debunked claim from May 2020 that chewing raw onions will cure COVID-19.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

A non-peer reviewed article has appeared in a journal claiming that masks cause physical and mental harm to their wearers. The article lists over twenty negative health outcomes purportedly caused by mask wearing. The article is circulating widely on social media and fake news sites, shared by anti-vaccine, anti-government, and conspiracy groups as a “study” that validates anti-mask beliefs. There is scientific consensus that mask wearing is an essential, simple, and safe measure to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases transmissible by air / respiratory droplets. Misappropriating valid scientific terms and phrases, such as using the term “study” in reference to an article without peer review, is a common tactic employed by anti-vaccine and conspiracy groups. The tactic is used to create a false equivalence between unscientific and scientific arguments.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

Videos are circulating on social media claiming that COVID-19 vaccine promotions (like receiving a free donut for proving vaccination) are part of a marketing scheme to sell an "experimental" vaccine for the pharmaceutical industry, and that if the vaccines were truly safe and effective, they would not require such heavy marketing. Leaders of the anti-vaccine movement have been encouraging their followers to use the term “experimental” when referencing COVID-19 vaccines, in order to increase vaccine hesitancy.

Recommendation: Ignore 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