By Dorit Rubinstein Reiss
The anti-vaccine movement is aggressively working to promote misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, up to and including promoting fake claims of deaths from vaccines. We need to be aware of its efforts, and be prepared to respond.
It’s worth emphasizing that this blog post is focused on the anti-vaccine movement, not people with concerns about vaccines (the “vaccine hesitant”).
In relation to COVID-19, anti-vaccine activists have aggressively promoted misinformation from the start of the pandemic.
In March 2020, anti-vaccine activists incorrectly alleged – by misrepresenting a study – that flu vaccines increase COVID-19 risks. In June, anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree described COVID-19 as a “cold,” blamed those who died for their own deaths, and called on his followers to “catch that cold.”
And from the beginning, anti-vaccine activists were committed to the ideas that COVID-19 vaccines would not work, would be dangerous, and would be promoted by a nefarious global conspiracy. They continue to spread these allegations, for example, using the fact that there are liability protections for COVID-19 vaccines to imply the vaccines are dangerous. Liability protections for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are real; but they are not evidence that the vaccines are unsafe.
This post will focus on one type of misinformation: alleged deaths from COVID-19 vaccines.