Alabama Officials Debunk False Claim of COVID-19 Vaccine Death
By Saranac Hale Spencer
Posted on December 17, 2020
A false claim that an unidentified nurse died after getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Alabama has been feeding into the anti-vaccine disinformation online. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported that no one who has received the vaccine has died.
Contrary to a claim circulating on social media, no nurses have died after getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Alabama.
More than 200 registered nurses across the country have died after getting the disease, though. That’s according to a report released in September by National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union. As of Dec. 17, the total U.S. death toll was more than 300,000 and the total number of cases topped 17 million.
The falsehood about the death of an Alabama nurse started circulating shortly after doses began arriving in the state on Dec. 14. Health care workers were slated to be the first to receive the shots, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
One vague claim posted Dec. 15 on Facebook said: “One of the first nurses to receive the vaccine in AL is now dead. We shall see how the media spins this.”
Another post that didn’t name the purportedly deceased person added some fictional specificity the following day, claiming: “A nurse in Alabama has died approx 8-10 hours after receiving her C-19 vaccine. Let’s see if the news picks it up and tells the truth.”
It also included this hashtag: #AntiVaccine.
The claim is baloney, though.
“[N]o persons who received COVID-19 vaccine in Alabama have died,” the state’s health department said in a press release responding to the claim. “The posts are untrue,” it said.
The department checked with every hospital in the state that had administered the COVID-19 vaccine and confirmed that there were no deaths.
As we’ve written before, no serious safety concerns have been reported regarding the currently available COVID-19 vaccine, although some health care workers who have taken the vaccine have had allergic reactions. (See “A Guide to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine” for more.)
During the trial phase, serious adverse events — which refer to potentially life-threatening or disabling events — occurred in fewer than 1% of participants, and at similar rates in those vaccinated and those not vaccinated. The few instances the Food and Drug Administration considered possibly related to the vaccine included one case of a shoulder injury and one instance of lymphadenopathy, or swelling of the lymph nodes, following vaccination.
Further information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Nurses United. “Sins of Omission — How Government Failures to Track Covid-19 Data Have Led to More Than 1,700 Health Care Worker Deaths and Jeopardize Public Health.” Sep 2020.
Alabama Department of Public Health. Press release. “Three Alabama sites to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine today, additional shipments to be delivered tomorrow.” 14 Dec 2020.
Alabama Department of Public Health. Press release. “Rely only on credible sources of COVID-19 information.” 16 Dec 2020.
McDonald, Jessica. “A Guide to Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine.” FactCheck.org. Updated 12 Dec 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Ensuring the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in the United States.” Updated 10 Dec 2020.