Social media users blame COVID-19 vaccine for former cheerleader’s death

A former cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs died from sepsis after giving birth to a stillborn baby. Social media users are making the unsubstantiated claim that her death was caused by COVID-19 vaccination. Some are also using the former cheerleader’s death to support the false claims that miscarriage and stillbirth rates are as high as 83 percent among vaccinated people and that hydroxychloroquine could have prevented her death.

Recommendation: Vaccine opponents have a well-established pattern of using highly-publicized deaths as alleged evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe. Trending conversations about COVID-19 vaccine safety and miscarriage risk provide an opportunity to leverage existing messaging about the importance and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for pregnant people. COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and have been determined to be safe for everyone 6 months and older—including pregnant people, who are more likely to become seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection. Messaging may emphasize that dozens of studies in over half a million people show that COVID-19 vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Additionally, updating informational materials about COVID-19 treatments with messaging debunking hydroxychloroquine claims is recommended. Messaging may emphasize that hydroxychloroquine is ineffective in treating COVID-19 and preventing COVID-19 infection, and clinical trials showed hydroxychloroquine may cause heart problems in some COVID-19 patients.