Being vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect pregnant people from severe COVID-19. When given during pregnancy, the vaccines can also reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 early in a baby’s life. A new study adds to the evidence that vaccination during pregnancy is safe for babies, contrary to social media and online claims.
Flu shots and vaccines that protect children against measles, mumps and rubella have been effective in preventing illness, serious disease and death. But a meme has been circulating with the false suggestion that those vaccines are ineffective. Actually, they’ve saved millions of lives and have eliminated both measles and rubella in the U.S.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s battle against vaccines — and against the institutions that promote them — goes back to at least the mid-2000s, as we explain in the first article of this series. But the arrival of COVID-19 gave the environmental attorney fresh grounds to intensify his attacks and a timely platform to gain new followers and revenue.
Numerous studies have found that additional COVID-19 shots are generally associated with extra protection against the coronavirus. Many people on social media, however, have shared a preliminary finding from a Cleveland Clinic study and misrepresented it as proving that getting more doses increases a person’s risk of infection.
An unclear tweet from New York City health officials was meant to caution residents that the latest omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, might be more likely than previous variants to infect vaccinated or previously infected people. Social media posts misinterpreted the tweet to mean that vaccinated people were at higher risk than unvaccinated people.
The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were designed to study the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in preventing symptomatic disease, not transmission. But online publications now misleadingly present the fact that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was not tested for transmission as a “shocking admission” and proof that the company and the government lied.
As the virus that causes COVID-19 has evolved, the vaccines have become less effective in preventing symptomatic infection while remaining highly effective in preventing severe disease and death. This shift has been misrepresented by anti-vaccine influencers who falsely claim that it means the vaccines don’t work and have been ineffective all along.
In young children, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are expected to primarily protect against severe disease. Both shots successfully met the set benchmarks for vaccine effectiveness, which involved comparing antibody responses to those of adults. Online posts critical of government recommendations for the pediatric vaccines, however, fail to mention these essential data.