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FactCheck: No, care home residents in Ireland did not die two days after receiving a flu vaccine

A social media post claims older people have been given a higher dose of the vaccine as part of a “culling agenda”.

Image: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

A MESSAGE CIRCULATING IN WhatsApp chats and on social media has claimed that two people living in an elderly care home died within 48 hours of receiving a flu vaccine.

A post claiming to be shared from a “whistleblower” says that residents of a care home died or became sick after receiving a heightened dose of the flu vaccine. 

Care Home Factcheck Facebook 2 Source: Facebook

It has been shared on several Irish social media pages, with many commenters appearing to believe that the alleged incident occurred in Ireland.  

The Claim

The claim has been screengrabbed or copied and pasted and shared on multiple social media outlets.

The copied message makes two claims: that multiple residents in a care home became sick or died within 48 hours of receiving a flu vaccine, and that the “dosage and potency” of the vaccine had been increased for elderly people.

The post says: “I work in an elderly care home, and most of the 25 residents were vaccinated on Tuesday.”

It claims that “in the past 48 hours since they were given the flu jab, 2 have died, 1 appears to be dying and is in a critical condition, and 7 others are visibly different, affected, and now very poorly”.

Care Home Factcheck Facebook 1 Source: Facebook

“The care home manager informed me that they have increased the dosage and potency for the elderly vaccines, and that she can see its [sic] obvious that this is a culling agenda,” the post says.

“I’m so angry, frustrated, and don’t know if I can continue doing this work anymore.”  

The text of the post appears to have been first shared in the UK, but has since spread to other countries, including Ireland, Canada and Australia.

The most popular variation of the post that has circulated in Ireland says that it was shared from a “whistleblower”.

Other versions say that it was “shared from another forum”, or that it came from a “reputable source”.

Many of the screenshots of the post have been taken from a Facebook page in the UK called Keep Britain Free, but the post no longer appears on that page.

One post with a screenshot of the message on an Irish Facebook page has been shared more than 600 times from that page alone, and received over 450 reactions and 140 comments.

A version that has been shared in WhatsApp groups is captioned “absolutely shocking what the elderly in Ireland have gone through”, while another, which has been shared over 300 times, wrote “it’s happening here in Ireland too”.

The Evidence

The original message did not originate in Ireland, but it has been shared to Irish social media pages and with captions that suggest the incident occurred in Ireland in a way that has misled readers.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the HSE said that it had received no reports of any event like the one described in the post.

“All adverse events post-vaccination must be reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority,” the HSE spokesperson said.

“The HSE National Immunisation Office (NIO) has not been notified of any such events following the administration of the seasonal influenza vaccine,” they said.

The shared post also claims that the dosage and potency of the flu vaccine has been increased for older people.

However, the HSE has confirmed that the “seasonal influenza vaccine distributed by the HSE is the same for all people over 12 years of age. It is a Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine”.

In the UK, where the post seems to have originated, health officials have said that a number of misleading messages related to vaccines have been spreading online.

Information on any adverse events related to vaccines is collected, and there is no record of an incident at a care home or nursing home involving the flu vaccine.

Additionally, there have not been any changes to the potency of the vaccine in use in the UK.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are aware of various unacceptable and misleading messages on vaccines circulating online and urge people to be on their guard to recognise this kind of misinformation.

“Vaccines are safe and effective and are vital to protecting public health, saving many millions of lives across the globe,” the spokesperson said.

“There is strict safety monitoring in place to ensure that vaccines are safe to use, both now and in the future”.

There are two seasonal influenza vaccines in use in Ireland this year: Quadrivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine (QIV) and Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV).

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LAIV has been obtained to offer to children between the ages of 2 and 12, and is administered as a spray through the nose, while QIV is to be offered to adults.

According to the HSE, the most commonly reported side effects of QIV are pain at the site of the injection, localised redness and swelling where the vaccine was injected, muscle pain and headache.

The HSE has said that “serious allergic reactions are very rare”, and it does not list death as a potential adverse reaction from the vaccine.

A similar claim to the one circulating at the moment was made in Spain in September and has already been proven to be false.

That claim said that 97 of 120 elderly people in a care home in Madrid had died after receiving the flu vaccine in September.

However, Reuters found that Spain’s flu vaccination programme only started in October, despite the posts being shared in September, and that there was no evidence to corroborate the claim.

The Verdict

A claim shared widely on social media suggests that two people in a care home died within 48 hours of being administered a flu vaccine, and that several others became unwell.

It also claimed that older people were in a care home had been given a vaccine with a higher dosage or potency than what would usually be administered.

However, the HSE has confirmed that no event like the one described in the post has been reported.

Additionally, it is not true to say that older people are being administered a different type of vaccine to the one being provided to other adults.

In the UK, where the post seems to have originated, there is also no record of such an incident in a care home or nursing home, and no change has been made to the potency of the flu vaccine.

As a result, we rate the claim that two residents in a care home in Ireland died within 48 hours of receiving the flu vaccine: FALSE.

As per our verdict guide, this means: The claim is inaccurate.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.

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