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.

A post on a far-right legal website falsely claims that none of the available COVID-19 vaccines are FDA-approved because Comirnaty is different from the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that has been administered since December. This myth was repeated by a U.S senator who has been critical of COVID-19 public health guidelines throughout the pandemic. Comirnaty is simply the brand name for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It’s common for drugs to have a research name until FDA approval. Prior to FDA approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was called BNT162b2 by researchers and the “Pfizer vaccine” by the public. Now that the vaccine is FDA-approved, it is marketed under the name Comirnaty.

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A social media post with more than 20,000 engagements falsely claims that Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway have all banned the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. This claim is untrue. Finland and Sweden have paused the administration of the vaccine in teens and young adults while a potential rare myocarditis and pericarditis risk in the population is investigated. For similar reasons, Norway recommends that men under age 30 receive the Pfizer vaccine and Iceland is using the Moderna vaccine only as a booster for people aged 60 and older. Protocols in each of these countries are expected to continue to change as more information becomes available.

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A rumor that has spread across multiple social media platforms and conservative news sites claims that Southwest Airlines flight cancellations are the result of airline workers, specifically pilots, protesting the company’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Official statements from the airline, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Southwest pilots union have contradicted this narrative, saying that the cancellations were due to weather and air traffic control issues.

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A video posted to social media features a 2015 interview of Klaus Schwab, an economist who founded the World Economic Forum, saying that gene editing impacts an individual’s identity. The video falsely claims that this statement is evidence that mRNA vaccines can alter genetic material. At no point in the interview does Schwab mention vaccines. The technology that he is discussing is unrelated to any of the COVID-19 vaccines, which were developed five years after the interview. False claims that mRNA vaccines alter DNA have been debunked repeatedly but persist online.

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 A video shared to social media claims to feature audio of famed vaccine developer Dr. Maurice Hilleman admitting that the polio vaccine was used to spread cancer and HIV/AIDS. The video plays audio of a man speaking over images of people sick with AIDS and cancer. There is no evidence that the voice belongs to Hillman or that he ever made any such comments. For years, the myth that vaccines cause cancer and other deadly diseases have persisted worldwide.

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A trending conservative news article claims that President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for American workers does not exist and is “just a press release.” This claim is false. An executive order requiring that all executive branch workers and federal contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19 was filed with the federal register on September 9th. The president also requested that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) draft an emergency rule mandating that all employers with at least 100 employees require that workers are fully vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Earlier this week, OSHA submitted a draft of the new rule to the White House for review.

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The latest video from an activist group known for its deceptively edited videos features an alleged Pfizer whistleblower claiming that antibodies produced from natural infection are superior to those produced by vaccination. He goes on to say that Pfizer's strategy is to make life inconvenient for unvaccinated people to force them to get vaccinated. The video and its false claims have been shared by several large social media accounts. Studies into vaccine versus virus-induced immunity have produced mixed results. What we do know is that there is no safe way to acquire natural immunity and not everyone who contracts COVID-19 will develop protective antibodies against it.

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 Advocates of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure have continued to claim that the efficacy of the drug is being covered up by pharmaceutical companies and the government, while also criticizing Merck's new potential COVID-19 treatment. Ivermectin proponents claim that Big Pharma is attempting to discredit the drug because it’s affordable and widely available. One article cited the debunked claim that India's use of ivermectin reduced COVID-19 infections and deaths. Ivermectin has not been found to be effective at preventing or treating COVID-19, and when taken in the veterinary form, can be harmful to humans.

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A preprint of a non-peer-reviewed study about vaccine myocarditis risk has been withdrawn due to a miscalculation. The study claimed that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines cause a 1 in 1,000 risk of myocarditis. The authors later acknowledged that they under-calculated the number of vaccines that were administered during the study period. The miscalculation resulted in a “vastly” inflated myocarditis risk, according to a statement from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, where the study was conducted. Prior to its withdrawal, the study was widely circulated on social media and websites known to publish vaccine misinformation.

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A video that claims to show a man cutting his skin and removing the COVID-19 vaccine from his body in blood clots has been shared in multiple social media posts. The video suggests that within 30 minutes of being vaccinated, an alternative medicine technique called cupping can be used to suction coagulated blood, and presumably the vaccine, from the body. This claim is false. The vaccines are injected into the arm muscles and travel throughout the body, making removal of the vaccine by cupping or any other means impossible.

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