Viewpoint: Herpes linked to COVID vaccine? Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post descends into conspiracy mongering

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images
Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images

Lately, the New York Post seems to be on a mission to scare as many people as possible out of getting vaccinated.

Take for instance this typically unsubtle [April 20] headline: “Herpes infection possibly linked to COVID-19 vaccine, study says.”

Sounds terrifying! Setting aside the herculean heavy lifting the word “possibly” is doing in that sentence, the prospect of catching a dreaded STD is the kind of thing that might make one second-guess vaccine safety.

Upon reading the article, however, one would then realize this is the substance of the matter: “Scientists in Israel identified six cases in a new study of patients developing a skin rash known as herpes zoster—or shingles—after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, according to a study in the Rheumatology journal.” Put this way, the story is decidedly less eyebrow-raising.

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As one vaccine research scientist helpfully points out on Twitter, “Shingles can flare up with various stressors, which is likely what we’re seeing here.” In other words, given the hundreds of millions of people who have been vaccinated around the world, perhaps a localized, single-digit spate of rashes isn’t worth panicking over.

An alternate headline, such as “Six vaccinated Israelis get shingles,” might have brought a sense of proportionality to the story.

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