Link between COVID vaccine and death? Here’s a case study on how anti-vaxxers exploit ambiguous reporting

Credit: Wired
Credit: Wired

News organizations are at risk of “creating false connections and misinformation” when they write headlines that suggest a link between vaccinations and deaths or other health problems where one does not necessarily exist, according to a new study published by the non-partisan non-profit organization Advance Democracy.

The findings, which were provided to CNN Business, show that headlines that, while sometimes factually accurate, are posted with “little to no context” are spread online and “weaponized” by anti-vaccination groups on Facebook where they amass thousands of interactions. 

The results of a CNN poll conducted in January showed that 30% of Americans said they will not try to get vaccinated. 

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“In an environment where there is still so much vaccine hesitancy, placing so much emphasis on these one-off events busts serves to reinforce fear in people who are already afraid of the vaccine,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

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Reiner noted that more than 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the US.

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“When you administer that many vaccinations other events will also happen to patients by sheer chance,” Reiner said. “Very likely people have gotten into car accidents the same day, or have fallen off their bicycle, or even have had a heart attack the same day as a vaccine by pure chance.”

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