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 more vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-resistant people have gotten vaccinated as a result of mandates, fake home remedies to “undo” the vaccination have popped up on social media. Some treatments claim to “detox” the vaccine from the body using baking soda, Epsom salt, and borax baths, while others claim to “uninject” the vaccine with venom extraction kits or cupping therapy. None of these supposed remedies will reverse the vaccination process but some, such as bathing in borax, may be harmful.

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A video of a child experiencing convulsions has resurfaced online with claims that the child suffered a seizure after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The video previously gained traction in May, when it was debunked by the child's father, who said the boy has epilepsy and has experienced seizures since 2009.

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As COVID-19 vaccines began being administered to children ages 5 to 11 around the country, opposition to the vaccines has picked up steam. A prominent actor publicly stated that he won’t vaccinate his children, while news articles and viral social media posts urge parents not to vaccinate their children or refuse the second dose of the vaccine. The low-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been studied rigorously in children, with no serious side effects being reported in any of the clinical trials. The vaccine reduces children’s risk of getting and transmitting COVID-19, protecting kids and their families.

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A social media post with over 75,000 engagements shows an apparent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request response that states that the CDC has no record of any unvaccinated person who was reinfected with COVID-19 spreading the virus to others. The response goes on to say that the CDC does not collect that information. The FOIA response makes no claims about the effects of previous COVID-19 infection on an individual’s ability to transmit the disease. Several studies have shown that, among people who have had COVID-19, those who are vaccinated are less likely to be reinfected and have a stronger immune response than any other population. 

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An unsourced claim that California Governor Gavin Newsom had an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 booster took hold on social media and conservative news sites. The rumor spread rapidly with no evidence other than the governor’s lack of official public appearances for 12 days. According to Governor Newsom’s office, he was working and spending time with his family during those 12 days, which appears to be confirmed by a picture posted to social media. There is no evidence that the Governor was sick, from the booster or otherwise.

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A trending article reports a whistleblower’s allegation that Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine trials were compromised due to misconduct from a research organization contracted by the company. The allegation, which includes accusations of data tampering, is being used to claim that the vaccine is not safe. The article’s claims have not been verified. In a statement, the research organization in question denied that the whistleblower, who the organization briefly employed, was involved in any clinical trial research. The accusations are not evidence against the vaccines. A systematic review of the real-world benefits and harms of the vaccine found it to be safe and effective, with many studies ongoing as part of a global effort to ensure safety and transparency.

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An unvaccinated professional football player contracted COVID-19 and promoted a host of misinformation about COVID-19 immunity and ineffective alternative treatments, including ivermectin and homeopathic methods. He did so while falsely claiming that the vaccines don’t work because vaccinated people can still get COVID-19. Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100 percent effective. But they are still the best protection against COVID-19 because they are the only way to safely gain immunity against the virus. There are effective treatments for COVID-19, but they are not a substitute for vaccination. And there is no evidence that ivermectin and homeopathic treatments are effective at preventing or treating COVID-19.

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Several social media posts and a blog that publishes COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation have been spreading the claim that Pfizer changed its formulation for the children's COVID-19 vaccines to include an ingredient used to stabilize heart attack patients. The ingredient in question, tromethamine, is a commonly used buffer that allows mRNA to be safely stored for longer periods. The buffer will be added as an inactive ingredient to all Pfizer vaccine formulations, not only the lower-dose vaccine for children under 12, and has nothing to do with heart issues.

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A recent study found that vaccinated people who contract the Delta variant can spread it to others, confirming what previous studies have reported. The study is being used by anti-vaccine advocates to falsely claim that vaccines don’t work. COVID-19 vaccines, like all vaccines, are not 100 percent effective at preventing disease. Although Delta-infected vaccinated people have a similar viral load as infected unvaccinated people, vaccinated people are far less likely to contract COVID-19 in the first place. Some data also suggests that vaccinated people are contagious for a shorter period of time than unvaccinated people, which reduces the likelihood that they will spread COVID-19 to others.

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A comment from an FDA advisory panel member, who stated that “we’re never going to learn about how safe this vaccine is unless we start giving it,” has been taken out of context and used by vaccine opponents, including a U.S. congressperson, to cast doubt on COVID-19 vaccines for younger children. The advisor’s full remarks recognized the fact that, while the vaccines are very safe and effective in children, the cost-benefit analysis is different for younger populations who are less susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19. That does not mean that the vaccines have not been tested in children or that they were found to be anything other than safe and effective. The FDA voted to authorize vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 because the benefits of vaccination—more than 90 percent efficacy against COVID-19—far outweigh the extremely rare potential risks in the population.

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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