Comments on Tennessee news articles spread false claims about vaccine safety

Last week, a local news station reported that Tennessee has the highest flu activity in the U.S. and low flu vaccination rates. A Tennessee doctor told the news station that vaccine hesitancy, “vaccine fatigue,” and the desire to “put COVID behind them” have contributed to the state’s low flu vaccination rates. Comments on the article promote the false claims that flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe, ineffective, unnecessary, and cause illness.

Risk level: Medium

Recommendation: These types of comments may discourage patients in Tennessee from getting this season’s flu vaccine and the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Doctors may face questions about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. Talking points may emphasize that both flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and have been determined to be safe. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of infection and hospitalization and reduces children’s risk of developing a life-threatening flu infection. COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe illness, death, and long COVID. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine for everyone six months and older.