Anti-vaccine activists blame COVID-19 vaccines for athletes’ health issues

Social media posts in English and Spanish falsely blame COVID-19 vaccines for athletes’ recent health incidents. Specifically, the posts falsely claim that a tennis player’s collapse during the Miami Open and an Egyptian soccer player’s cardiac arrest were due to the COVID-19 vaccines.


Vaccine opponents have a well-established pattern of using highly-publicized illness and death as alleged evidence of a COVID-19 vaccine injury, and videos often gain traction because of the dramatic and shocking visuals of athletes collapsis. These false claims are part of a multi-year misinformation campaign resulting in a third of American adults falsely believing that COVID-19 vaccines cause sudden deaths. Ensuring that informational materials use prebunking messaging to explain how COVID-19 vaccines help to protect against severe illness, death, and long COVID—as well as COVID-19-related complications like myocarditis—is recommended. Messaging may emphasize that COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and have been determined to be safe, as adverse reactions are extremely rare. The risk of adverse reactions like myocarditis following vaccination is far lower than the risk following a COVID-19 infection.