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.

A video with over three million likes on a popular video-sharing social media app claims that the vaccine recipient's breasts grew two cup sizes after getting the Pfizer shot. The video is one of many making similar claims on the platform, while a search of the term "Pfizer Boob" on Twitter turns up hundreds of tweets from people making similar claims or expressing hopes or fears of a similar reaction happening if they were to get the vaccine. A side effect of vaccination is the temporary swelling of the lymph nodes. Swelling of lymph nodes in the chest could potentially explain why some people experienced what they thought was increased breast size shortly after vaccination.

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Trending social media posts refer to a lawsuit against the federal government that alleges 45,000 people died over a period of three days after receiving the COVID-19 shot. The posts claim, without evidence, that the federal government is covering up these deaths in order to roll out mandatory vaccines for children. The lawsuit is purportedly based on self-reported and unconfirmed VAERS data, but the numbers do not match up with VAERS reports. Notably, the lawsuit was filed by America's Frontline Doctors, a group that has been shown to spread misinformation throughout the pandemic. The claims made in the group’s motion, which are not backed by any evidence, are meant to further discourage people from getting vaccinated.

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In a CNN town hall, President Joe Biden exaggerated the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines by assuring listeners that they would not get the virus if they were vaccinated. There are instances of fully vaccinated people who have tested positive for the virus, although the cases are rare and usually mild, and vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of infection, serious illness, and death. Getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect against COVID-19.

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Several popular social media posts have claimed that the Biden administration is sending federal agents door-to-door to coerce people to take “experimental” vaccines. In fact, the door-to-door vaccination outreach campaign will be carried out by community members who have volunteered to knock on doors and encourage vaccinations. Campaigns volunteers are trained in motivational interviewing strategies to foster open dialogues that allow community members to share their thoughts on the vaccines. Federal government employees are not going door-to-door for the campaign, and no vaccines are being administered as part of this campaign. Although the mRNA vaccines have been described as “experimental” by the vaccine opposition movement, they have been through rigorous testing in both animal studies and one of the largest human clinical trials in history; and studies continue.

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Last week, a guest on a popular political talk show falsely claimed that the effectiveness of COVID vaccines is rapidly declining and suggested that masks are “simply symbolic.” These claims are based on reports of breakthrough COVID-19 infections in vaccinated people. Vaccines are not 100 percent effective, which means that some vaccinated people will still get COVID-19. These cases are rare and usually quite mild. The vaccines have been remarkably effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death: For the past few months, only a tiny percentage of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. have been in vaccinated people.   

Efforts to discourage vaccination have only served to allow the virus to continue spreading and mutating, which could potentially result in a variant that is more effective against the vaccine. Think of the vaccine as a bulletproof vest, rather than a forcefield, against COVID-19. Masks offer another layer of protection, which is why public health officials promote vaccination along with other safety measures to control the spread of the virus.

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The host of an online conspiracy news show is seeking whistleblowers from the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the COVID-19 vaccines. The host alleges, without evidence, that chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci lied about vaccine safety and insists that the vaccines were developed too quickly. To incentivize potential whistleblowers,  the host referenced the False Claims Act, which rewards whistleblowers with up to 30 percent of proceeds collected from the alleged fraud. 

A common misconception about the COVID-19 vaccines is that they were developed too quickly to be safe. In reality, the rapid development of the vaccines was based on decades of mRNA research and extensive knowledge of coronaviruses, which have caused two epidemics in the last 20 years. 

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After claiming that the Biden administration’s proposed door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination outreach campaign means that the federal government is tracking vaccination status and will mandate vaccines, people online are using a training course from the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium as further evidence to support this debunked conspiracy theory. The training course, "MGT 433 Isolation and Quarantine for Rural Communities," is designed to "provide general knowledge necessary to begin planning for situations requiring the isolation and quarantine of a large portion of a local, rural population." Several social media users and websites that have previously been shown to share misinformation are falsely suggesting that the course is foreshadowing "quarantine camps," with some going so far as to compare it to slavery. The training course has existed for years and there is no evidence to suggest that it is in any way related to COVID-19 or the vaccine outreach campaign. Furthermore, training for public health emergencies, such as pandemics, is routine and a core function of public health.

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A livestream video featuring a panel of several figures prominent in the anti-vaccination movement attempts to expose a pattern of retractions of studies that demonstrate vaccine injury. The panelists claim that studies critical of vaccines are being suppressed due to conflicts of interest. In reality, these studies all had flawed data and reporting methodologies that failed to meet scientific standards. Notably, a study by one of the panelists' was retracted for falsifying data to claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism. The panel was spurred by the recent retraction of a paper that claimed that COVID-19 vaccines cause two deaths for every three that they prevent. The publication of the study caused a widespread backlash in the scientific community and prompted the resignation of several vaccine experts from the journal’s editorial board. The study was found to misrepresent data from the Netherlands' vaccine safety reporting system and was ultimately retracted by the journal. 

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Manipulated data from the preliminary findings of a CDC study investigating  COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy outcomes are being used to claim that the vaccines are harmful to pregnant women. The study enrolled 3,958 women around three months after vaccination. Of the 827 pregnancies evaluated, the researchers found a miscarriage rate of 12.6 percent (104 pregnancies) which is comparable to the average miscarriage rate of 10 to 20 percent. Importantly, this data only includes data from completed pregnancies, which means more data is available for people who were vaccinated later in their pregnancy than for people vaccinated earlier in their pregnancy. Following the publication of the results in the New England Journal of Medicine, social media users noted that 700 of the pregnancies included in the analysis were vaccinated after 20 weeks when the risk of miscarriage is lower. They then re-calculated the rate to include only pregnancies with vaccination during the first trimester, concluding that the real miscarriage rate is 82 percent. This is a gross misrepresentation of the study’s data, as it fails to include complete data from the people who were vaccinated prior to 20 weeks, most of whom are still pregnant. In fact, the study explicitly states that “whereas some pregnancies with vaccination in the first and early second trimester have been completed, the majority are ongoing.”  By only including data from those who were vaccinated early in their pregnancy, the results were primarily from pregnancies that ended early, due to premature birth or miscarriage. The results presented in the study are preliminary and data is still being collected. At this time, the results suggest that there is no increased risk of miscarriage following COVID-19 vaccination.

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A myth has been circulating online that "toxic" graphene oxide makes up more than 99 percent of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The claim appears to have originated on a news program known to promote conspiracy theories and has since spread in numerous languages to multiple social media platforms that don’t regulate or ban false information. The ingredients for all authorized vaccines are listed on the FDA’s website and none of them contain graphene oxide. A Pfizer spokesperson has confirmed that the ingredient is not used in the company’s vaccine.

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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