Large independent report on COVID-19 vaccine side effects sparks online conversation

Social media users in English and Spanish are discussing a major independent review published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The nonprofit evaluated real-world data, and drew several conclusions, including that although Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can cause myocarditis in rare cases, they do not cause infertility, Guillain-Barré syndrome, heart attack, Bell’s Palsy, or thrombosis.

Recommendation: While this report’s findings affirm that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, online conversations about this report may provide a platform for vaccine opponents who cherry-pick data about myocarditis after vaccination to discourage vaccination. One of the report’s committee members emphasized that “identifying a harm does not mean that it occurs frequently. Harms associated with vaccines are rare;” this talking point might be helpful to use with patients who have questions about myocarditis and vaccines. The report provides additional evidence of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Key talking points may emphasize that large-scale, credible, peer-reviewed studies consistently show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and that myocarditis is far more common after COVID-19 infection, and that’s why the CDC recommends the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.