A viral video shows a doctor accusing the U.S. government of testing out COVID-19 vaccines on the general population and involuntarily entering recipients into a tracking system.
“If you take the vaccine, you’ll be enrolled in a pharmacovigilance tracking system. It means that you’ve enrolled yourself in a medical trial,” the doctor says. “This pharmacovigilance tracking system tracks you for two years. It’s set up by the Department of Defense. It was handed off to Oracle and Google to put the data together.”
The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The doctor is Simone Gold, a founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that became famous for voicing coronavirus conspiracy theories. Gold herself has spread misinformation in the past, and she was recently charged for participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
According to the Medical Board of California, Gold holds an active medical license. She specializes in emergency medicine and general practice. However, many of her assertions about the COVID-19 vaccines are misleading or downright wrong.
There is no evidence that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine enrolls people in a government tracking program, as Gold suggests, and clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of the vaccines were done before they were approved for emergency use.
We reached out to Gold for comment but didn’t hear back.
Getting the vaccine won’t enroll you in a government tracking program
Clinics do report vaccinations to state databases to help with distribution and allow healthcare providers to keep track of immunizations. However, Gold’s claim that getting vaccinated automatically enrolls people into a government tracking system is misleading.
State vaccine registries allow public health and healthcare providers to confirm that the vaccines are being properly distributed. Since both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be maximally effective, the databases also help providers ensure that vaccinated people receive their recommended second dose on schedule.
This data wouldn’t be used to allow the government to track people, said Kelly Moore, deputy director of the Immunization Action Coalition.
“These systems are not typically used for post-authorization safety surveillance,” said Moore. “Any use of data from these systems outside the purpose of direct patient care would be done with de-identified data (no personal information) and would be subject to research review and approval processes.”
The “tracking system” that Gold references explicitly is an online system run by Oracle that is being used to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keep track of vaccine logistics and distribution. According to Oracle, anonymized data from the system will be used for “analysis and reporting by authorized agencies and organizations.”
Another part of the CDC system is “v-safe,” a smartphone-based vaccine safety program that allows vaccine recipients to report any adverse side effects to the CDC.
Moore confirmed that enrollment in the v-safe program is voluntary, not mandatory as Gold claims. The CDC and Oracle have also confirmed to other fact-checkers that participation in the program is optional.
In addition, signing up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine does not automatically enroll a patient in an experimental medical trial. Vaccine trials are used to test the safety and efficacy of vaccines before they are rolled out to the public. The COVID-19 vaccines have already been subject to these studies, which involved tens of thousands of volunteers.
To receive emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna had to follow up with at least half of the participants for at least two months after they received their vaccinations to check for any negative effects.
Gold said, “If you take the vaccine, you’ll be enrolled in a pharmacovigilance tracking system. It means that you’ve enrolled yourself in a medical trial.”
Anonymized data from a CDC system will be used to help federal agencies keep track of vaccine distribution, not the people who are vaccinated. Another optional part of the system will allow vaccine recipients to report any adverse side effects.
Trials to test the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines were done before they were approved for emergency use. Signing up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine does not automatically enroll a patient in a clinical trial.
We rate this claim False.
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