Congressional vaccine safety hearings stir up controversy online

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic held a multi-part hearing on “Assessing America’s Vaccine Safety Systems.” The subcommittee includes several physicians along with a congressperson known for promoting COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Online vaccine opponents are misrepresenting federal health officials’ testimony about VAERS reports to falsely claim that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe. A trending article falsely claims that federal agencies stopped monitoring the long-term safety of the vaccines.

Risk level: High

Recommendation: Social media posts misrepresenting statements and data from this hearing may discourage patients from getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Messaging may emphasize that COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and monitored over more than three years. At this point, over 70 percent of the world has been vaccinated without any evidence of widespread safety concerns. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, death, and long COVID.