Latest anti-vaccine memes linking COVID shots to infertility go viral. Here’s how that happened

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Credit: Anjali Nair/NBC News/Getty Images
Credit: Anjali Nair/NBC News/Getty Images

Persistent myths like vaccine shedding are becoming more extreme on social media. The latest misinformation claims are that even being near vaccinated people is dangerous and that it can cause adverse side effects for women.

People… are taking the warnings so seriously that they are starting to take action, asking that people who have been vaccinated stay out of stores and even canceling appointments with clients who have been vaccinated because of fear that being around vaccinated people can lead to menstrual irregularities, fertility issues or even miscarriages. A private school in Miami barred teachers who have been vaccinated from coming into contact with students and threatened the employment of teachers who had been vaccinated.

Among the reasons misinformation is spreading so rapidly is that its believers use unverifiable firsthand accounts, often shared on under-moderated social media features like Instagram stories and Facebook comment sections, where personal narratives that have long fueled the anti-vaccination movement spread even as some of the largest social media companies have struggled to curtail vaccine misinformation.

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“You can’t fact-check someone’s personal experience. With Instagram stories, people share their testimony, and the first round of it feels so intimate and immediate,” said [researcher] Jennifer Nilsen.

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