Monthly articles by Jessica McDonald, Science Editor, FactCheck.org

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COVID-19 vaccine side effects

By: Kate Yandell, Science Writer, FactCheck.org

Vaccine safety research is often co-opted to raise unfounded concerns about vaccines. Recently, a large, international study from the Global Vaccine Data Network has been shared as supposed evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe or that people should not have received them. In fact, the study primarily confirmed known serious, but rare, side effects of COVID-19 vaccination, while also identifying a possible new safety signal for a very rare event. For more, see "Study Largely Confirms Known, Rare COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects."

Published in March 2024 Vaccine Update

Unpacking the rat study that sparked claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause autism

In January 2024, social media was abuzz with unsupported claims that COVID-19 vaccination causes autism. These were based on a Turkish study that gave human-sized doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to pregnant rats and claimed to find negative behavioral effects in some offspring. Outside experts, however, have questioned the results and relevance to humans. For more, see “Viral Posts Misuse Rat Study to Make Unfounded Claims About COVID-19 Vaccines and Autism.

Published in February 2024 Vaccine Update

Debunking revived claim of 17 million deaths from COVID-19 vaccination

False claims that COVID-19 vaccines have killed large numbers of people are hardly new, but a bogus estimate of 17 million vaccine deaths went viral again after a podcaster and former evolutionary biologist mentioned it in an interview with Tucker Carlson. The flawed estimate, which first made waves on social media in September 2023, fails to consider excess deaths from COVID-19, among other problems. The podcaster also downplayed the risks of COVID-19 to children, incorrectly claiming that healthy kids “don’t die of COVID.” For more, read the story, “Tucker Carlson Video Spreads Falsehoods on COVID-19 Vaccines, WHO Accord.”

Published in January 2024 Vaccine Update

Reviewed on March 25, 2024

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

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