Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.

An editorial published in the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) encourages researchers to investigate a potential link between COVID-19 vaccination and changes in menstruation. The editorial relies heavily on the U.K’s Yellow Card vaccine safety reporting system and clearly states that “Most people who report a change to their period after vaccination find that it returns to normal the following cycle and, importantly, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility.” But that has not prevented bad actors from circulating the piece, which they incorrectly call a study, to resurface the myth that the vaccines affect fertility. 

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During the public comment portion of a recent FDA’s advisory committee meeting, a man who has previously published anti-vaccine content presented what he claimed to be evidence that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has killed more people than it has saved. The presentation included screenshots of social media posts, news article headlines, an anti-vaccine advocacy website, and a misinterpreted passage from a study which concluded that the Pfizer vaccine “had a favorable safety profile and was highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19.” Other people online have circulated images from the presentation, calling the man an “FDA expert” and claiming that the FDA decided against recommending boosters for people under 65 based on the “data” he presented. During the FDA meeting, committee members agreed that younger people are still well protected by the vaccines, which are safe and effective. But both the FDA and CDC have authorized booster shots for Pfizer recipients under 65 with underlying medical conditions and those who work puts them at increased risk.

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A conspiracy news site published an article falsely claiming that the CDC is cross-checking census data and vaccination records to identify and target unvaccinated people. While local and federal government initiatives have focused vaccine outreach to specific areas and populations with low vaccination rates, individuals are not being targeted by any health officials.

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Several social media accounts with large followings have shared the preprint of a study that claims teen boys are at greater myocarditis (heart inflammation) risk from vaccination than COVID-19 infection. The study, which is still under peer review, has been heavily criticized by physicians and public health experts who noted that it relies entirely on a search for potential myocarditis-related symptoms in unverified VAERS reports. The study’s authors flagged every VAERS report of high levels of the heart protein troponin as “myocarditis.” Cardiologists were quick to point out that equating high troponin with myocarditis is grossly inaccurate as the protein can increase in response to many regular activities, including exercise. The study also does not directly compare myocarditis following vaccination and COVID-19 infection; it compares VAERS reports that may be related to myocarditis in young men to COVID-19 hospitalization for the same age group. The study failed to correct for the baseline level of myocarditis in the age group and ignored that their risk of developing myocarditis from a COVID-19 infection is seven times higher than from COVID-19 vaccination.

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A social media post that claims to offer tips from a nurse to treat COVID-19 at home suggests everything from taking daily supplements and baby aspirin to sleeping on your stomach and drinking berry smoothies. None of the proposed remedies are supported by any evidence but most are relatively harmless. Dietary supplements and daily aspirin regimens should not be started without first consulting a doctor.

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A pop star made headlines after telling her fans on social media not to be “bullied” into getting the COVID-19 vaccine and claiming that her cousin’s friend in Trinidad developed swollen testicles and became impotent after getting vaccinated. Trinidad's health minister has said that no such post-vaccination adverse events have been reported in the country. Although the singer’s claim was quickly debunked by doctors who noted that there is no evidence that the vaccine affects fertility or erectile function, the incident highlights the pervasiveness of some of the most persistent COVID-19 vaccine myths.

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A social media post is claiming that in November all Walmart locations will begin requiring customers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. A Walmart spokesperson said this claim is false. The company is requiring employees at some US locations to get vaccinated but no vaccine requirement exists for customers. Online misinformation related to vaccine mandates and vaccine passports has spiked in the days since the federal government announced vaccination or testing requirements for large employers.

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Multiple social media accounts are circulating the myth that Dr. Christine Grady, wife of NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the head of the FDA and was responsible for approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Dr. Grady is the chief of bioethics at the NIH Clinical Center, which plays no role in the emergency use authorization or approval of any drugs or vaccines.

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The results of an Oxford study currently under peer review have been misinterpreted online to suggest that vaccinated patients with COVID-19 have 251 times the viral load of unvaccinated patients. The false claim, which the study’s author called "an egregious misinterpretation of the findings," has been widely shared by individuals and organizations previously shown to spread anti-vaccine rhetoric. The purpose of the study was to examine breakthrough infections in health care workers and compare viral loads between those individuals infected with the Delta variant and patients infected with the original COVID-19 viral strain. The study did not compare viral load in individuals based on vaccination status. The researchers found significantly higher viral loads in Delta infections than in those with the original COVID-19 strain.

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Several news outlets and social media accounts have falsely claimed that ivermectin has been approved to treat COVID-19 in Japan. One video that has been viewed more than 80,000 times claims to show the chair of the Tokyo Medical Association recommending ivermectin for all COVID-19 patients. In the video, he discusses ivermectin’s apparent benefits and suggests the off-label prescription of the drug. He also acknowledges that more study of the drug is necessary. The chair and his organization are not part of Japan’s Health Ministry, which oversees drug approvals and provides official health guidance. Ivermectin is not among the drugs approved for use against COVID-19 in Japan and neither the Tokyo government nor the Japanese Health Ministry recommends the drug to treat COVID-19. The video has also been widely shared in North America without this context.

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Alerts are categorized as high, medium, and low risk.
  • High risk alerts: Narratives with widespread circulation across communities, high engagement, exponential velocity, and a high potential to impact health decisions. Are often more memorable than accurate information.
  • Medium risk alerts: Narratives that are circulating in priority populations and pose some threat to health. Potential for further spread due to the tactics used or because of predicted velocity. Often highlights the questions and concerns of people.
  • Low risk alerts: Narratives that are limited in reach, don’t impact your community, or lack the qualities necessary for future spread. May indicate information gaps, confusion, or concerns.
Monthly Misinformation Report

Explore Public Good Project’s report highlighting high-level health trends. This report captures information from April 6th – May 5th, 2024.

Vaccine Misinformation Guide

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