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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of October 19, 2023

What happened to Yonatan Ehrlichman?

The Claim:

A well-shared tweet claims that this 8-year-old child of a pediatrician had a heart attack after receiving four vaccines.

The Facts:

This tweet is employing the fallacy appeal to emotion to try to tie tragic death of an 8-year old to vaccines without any evidence that vaccines had any relation to the death whatsoever.

According to news sources, the child nearly drowned in a bathtub after suffered cardiac arrest, and passed away a few days later. The only connection to vaccines was that the child had been vaccinated at some point in the past, but so have millions of other children around the globe, with 13.4 million children under the age of 12 in the US alone. There was nothing to indicate that vaccines had anything to do with his cardiac event nor his death.

Read more about the appeal to emotion fallacy and other “debate” tactics in our Advocacy on Social Media toolkit.

How many people died after vaccination against COVID?

The Claim:

One video claims that over half a million people in the U.S. have died because of COVID vaccines.

The Facts:

VAERS is a passive adverse event reporting data system, meaning anyone can report a suspected adverse reaction or event following a vaccine. It is also important to note that it is required to report any serious adverse event, including death “regardless of causality,” to VAERS following a COVID vaccine. This means any event, even those specifically not caused by the vaccine, will still be reported to VAERS.

It is required to report any deaths soon after vaccination, even if there’s no suspicion it was caused by a vaccine. Using raw VAERS data to figure out the number of deaths due to vaccine and multiplying that number by 30 due to an unsourced belief in underreporting, you will end up with a death rate orders of magnitude too high.

Is everyone having an autoimmune reaction?

The Claim:

One cardiologist claims that because mRNA produces a “foreign protein” on the surface of human cells, all vaccinated people are injured due to “auto-immunity.”

The Facts:

A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the cardiovascular system. Unsurprisingly, without additional training, they tend not to be specialists in immunology, diseases of the immune system, or autoimmunity. Of course the cardiologist in question is just quoting the authors of the articles, so they must be immunologists? No. One of the authors even claimed that mRNA vaccines were gene therapy and would cause fertility issues, all while promoting hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. None which is true.

While there have been possible claims of autoimmune issues after vaccination, those seem to be extremely rare, and those authors stress that the risk is exceedingly low and that the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risks.

In other real-world data, a recent cohort study, including over 4 million people, showed that COVID itself increased the risk of various autoimmune diseases and that vaccination against COVID was protective against quite of few of these conditions for those who eventually caught COVID.

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