False claims about mRNA vaccines resurface in response to bird flu research

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are developing an mRNA vaccine for the H5N1 bird flu. The vaccine—which was tested in mice and ferrets but has not yet gone through clinical trials—could help manage the bird flu outbreak in birds and cattle and prevent human infections. In response to news articles and news videos about this vaccine, some social media users are claiming that mRNA vaccines are unsafe and that “Mnra should be banned!!”

Recommendation: Given the rise in news coverage, the public has concerns and questions about bird flu. Trending narratives about bird flu and mRNA bird flu vaccines allow health departments an opportunity to provide accurate information about the current H5N1 avian flu outbreak and prebunk false claims about mRNA vaccines. Ensuring that community-based organizations and other partners have updated FAQs and one pagers with messaging about bird flu risk is recommended. Messaging may emphasize that while human cases of bird flu are extremely rare, avoiding contact with wild birds and with sick domestic animals is recommended. Researchers have been monitoring the evolution of the disease and have started to develop new vaccines in the event of a possible outbreak among humans. University of Pennsylvania researchers began developing an mRNA bird flu vaccine because “mRNA vaccines are easily and quickly adapted to protect against different strains of influenza viruses, and don’t require eggs for their development.” Continuing to reiterate that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are safe is recommended.