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.

On January 5th, baseball legend Hank Aaron publicly received the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia, partially as a way of inspiring the Black community to become vaccinated. He died seventeen days later in his sleep from natural causes. A coroner clarified that he did not have COVID-19 symptoms at the time of his death. Vaccine skeptics have falsely linked his death to the vaccine, claiming it is part of a wave of vaccine-related deaths among older adults across the world (which is not true). Anti-vaccine advocates are also framing his death as evidence that the Black community in the US is correct to be hesitant of COVID-19 vaccines, and should distrust any public health outreach to the Black community. Anti-vaxxers are capitalizing on a legendary American’s death and tarnishing one of his final heroic acts, to encourage vaccination, in order to cast him as an unwitting pawn of public health authorities.

Recommendation: Ignore Read More +

False claims to continue to circulate that it is better to acquire COVID-19 than to get the vaccine. This new spike in the same misinformation stems from Merck's discontinuation of their vaccine trial because immune responses to natural infection were stronger than the response generated by their trial vaccines. Misleading claims leave out the fact that Merck discontinued trials because the immune response from their vaccines were inferior to those reported for other COVID-19 vaccines.

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Stories about the deaths of 30+ elderly people in Norway following COVID-19 vaccination are being widely circulated. The deaths were investigated and Norway health officials have determined that the inoculations were not the cause of death. However, vaccine opponents believe this is another example of government cover up, and public and private sector collusion. As a result of the deaths, doctors in Norway have been instructed out of an abundance of caution to consider if someone who is frail and near the end of life is an appropriate candidate for a COVID-19 vaccine given that mild or moderate reactions such as fever or diarrhea may prove harmful to already frail individuals.

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Reports of allergic reactions in 6 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients at a clinic in San Diego temporarily slowed down vaccinations. According to the county’s Director of Epidemiology, the number of allergic reactions was slightly higher than expected in a day, and the reactions are being investigated. California’s state epidemiologist recommended providers stop using a specific lot of the Moderna vaccine out of an abundance of caution, and after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as allergists and other experts, California has resumed the Moderna vaccine rollout. The story spread quickly among vaccine opponents on social media, with popular tweets claiming that there were more injuries than reported.

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Discredited scientist and unlicensed physician Andrew Wakefield, known as a leader of the global anti-vaccine movement, has recently begun making claims that the new mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 are a form of genetic engineering and are altering individual's DNA. The original disinformation was taken down on some social media sites, but the misinformation itself is now circulating widely. Confusion regarding mRNA and DNA has existed since the introduction of novel mRNA vaccines; anti-vaccination leaders capitalizing on this confusion by addressing it in their prominent talking points is a new challenge.

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A Florida medical doctor died 16 days after taking the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. An Emeritus Professor of medicine from a respected medical institution claimed in an interview with a large media outlet that “it’s a medical certainty that the vaccine was related.” Vaccine opponents quickly disseminated the remarks to validate their opposition to the vaccine. The Florida medical doctor’s death is under investigation by the CDC and researchers from the vaccine manufacturer. Cause of death is pending from the Miami Dade County’s coroner. At this time, he is believed to have died from a brain hemorrhage brought on by a low platelet count, a condition called “acute immune thrombocytopenia”.

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A false claim that a nursing home had zero deaths from COVID-19 until it started vaccinations is circulating on social media. Without any evidence, the claim states that the vaccine may have killed 24 people in a Syracuse nursing home. Officials from the nursing home are calling the claim “dangerously false” and misleading. They further clarified that the deaths mentioned in the claim are from an outbreak of COVID-19 that affected 137 residents, 24 of whom died. Although the nursing home has started vaccinating its residents, the outbreak occurred in December before vaccines were available and administered. Moreover, some of the residents that died did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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The Nation of Islam (NOI), an African American political and religious movement in the United States, has begun an anti-vaccine campaign. An in-person and online event featured a lengthy seminar titled “Beyond Tuskeegee – Why Black People Must Not Take The Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine." The event was posted on YouTube and other social media sites, and has been viewed over 100,000 times. NOI has created a webpage on COVID-19 vaccines, providing information and educational resources that contain substantial health misinformation regarding vaccines:
https://www.noi.org/vaccine

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A video titled “The Future of Vaccines” is circulating containing various debunked claims, including that COVID-19 vaccines cause genetic mutations to unborn fetuses in pregnant women, that the vaccines are unsafe due to rushed clinical trials, and that the vaccines contain microchips that will be implanted into those who receive it. All of the claims in the video have been explained or debunked by multiple fact checking sites.

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Several stories have been trending around adverse reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Last week a story about a nurse who fainted after receiving her Pfizer vaccine was trending, and in the last 24 hours the story has escalated to claim that she has now died from the vaccine (which is false). A story about a physician at Boston Medical Center who went into anaphylactic shock after receiving the Moderna vaccine also caused a spike in claims that vaccine ingredients are unsafe. The CDC asks individuals with a history of severe allergies to vaccines to consult their physician before receiving the vaccine.

Recommendation: Direct 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