Can You Handle The Truth?: False Information On COVID-19 Vaccines Spreads As Cases Rise Across Unite

Jul 16, 2021

A sign directs patients at a COVID-19 vaccination site Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Bell, Calif.
Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Photo

False information about COVID-19 vaccines continues to spread on social media, and comes as cases are on the rise across the United States.

PolitiFact California reporter Chris Nichols and contributor Steven Rascon fact-checked several claims in this week’s Can You Handle The Truth segment. 

They spoke with CapRadio anchor Randol White.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Interview Highlights

On a false Instagram post that makes a questionable claim about vaccines and miscarriages

Chris Nichols: This post cherry-picks and manipulates some data from a scientific study to make a false and alarming claim. It says there’s a high miscarriage rate, more than 80%, for women who got an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine early in their pregnancies. 

The Instagram post arrives at this flawed conclusion based on a small sample of completed pregnancies known by researchers. But in reality, the majority of study participants are either still pregnant, or have not yet had follow-ups with the study’s authors.

Researchers said early results have not found an increased risk of miscarriage tied to the COVID-19 vaccination. They also acknowledge that there’s limited data on this topic and that it requires further research.

On a false claim about infants and childhood vaccines

Nichols:These social media posts claim that common childhood vaccines cause sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. PolitiFact found this is also a false, baseless claim

SIDS refers to the sudden and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby, also called crib death. But scientific studies have consistently shown that there is no causal relationship between vaccines and SIDS. Those studies also show that receiving recommended immunizations can lower an infant’s risk of SIDS. 

The CDC recommends that during their first six months, infants get vaccinated against a range of diseases, from tetanus to whooping cough to polio and several others. Studies looking at each of these vaccines have found no associations between them and SIDS. 

On a misleading claim on social media that said San Francisco was allowing children to get the COVID vaccine without their parent’s approval 

Steven Rascon: Just as the FDA was about to approve the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use for minors, San Francisco issued a health order saying if you are a minor you can consent to the vaccine only if you are emancipated as according to the state or considered self-sufficient.

Most of this information was in the health order, and it recognizes that emancipated minors are not the norm but should have a choice to receive the vaccine. Much of the misinformation came from Twitter and Facebook users sharing a portion of the health order which clearly says “San Francisco allowing minors to consent to receive the COVID vaccine.”

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health confirmed this was only the case for emancipated minors, and healthcare providers giving out the shot would still have to try to get a parent’s consent before giving out the shot.

Because San Francisco allows some minors to consent to the vaccine on their own, PolitiFact California rated this claim as Mostly False.