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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has not been discredited

PolitiFact | Headline misleads about Moderna vaccine recommendation
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is seen during a vaccination clinic at the Norristown Public Health Center in Norristown, Pa., on Dec. 7, 2021.
A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is seen during a vaccination clinic at the Norristown Public Health Center in Norristown, Pa., on Dec. 7, 2021. [ MATT ROURKE | AP ]
Published Jan. 24

A blog headline gives the impression that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been widely discredited. It hasn’t.

The headline on the article, which was published on a website called Newsbreak, reads, “Moderna COVID vaccine is no longer recommended due to heart inflammation.”

The article was shared on Facebook and 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 headline, which lacks detail about who and where is affected by the recommendation, is misleading. The article links to another website that accurately references a Moderna policy change that applies only to those under age 31 in one European country, Belgium.

The Newsbreak article is just a brief paragraph that says, in part, “There are all kinds of discussions about the potential side effects of the covid vaccine, and these include heart inflammation for younger people. Check out the latest reports involving Moderna vaccines below.”

It then links to a site called Health Thoroughfare, which more accurately reports the details of Belgium’s recommendation for Moderna use, saying “the very rare side effect among under-31s of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine” led Belgium to stop recommending it for that age group.

Belgium announced it would stop using the Moderna vaccine as a first or second dose for 18- to 30-year-olds, because of a rare side effect of inflammation of the heart muscle, The Brussels Times reported. People in that age group can still receive Moderna as a booster shot, according to the newspaper.

“The decision for the basic vaccination of 18- to 30-year-olds is based on international knowledge of possible side effects that are very rare. We took this decision as a precaution,” Gudrun Briat, the spokesperson for the Vaccination Task Force, told the newspaper.

“Usually the inflammation is harmless and goes away without being noticed, but if there is an alternative vaccine available, it makes more sense not to take any risks,” Briat said, according to the article.

Other European nations have taken similar steps, PolitiFact reported. In the fall, Sweden temporarily suspended the use of Moderna for those under 30 years old; Finland stopped using Moderna for males under 30 years old; Norway recommended that people under age 18 and men under age 30 take the Pfizer vaccine instead of Moderna’s but did not require it; and Denmark said those under 18 can request Moderna if they wish.

Our ruling

The headline on a blog article reads, “Moderna COVID vaccine is no longer recommended due to heart inflammation.”

The headline is misleading; it gives the false impression that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been widely discredited.

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A new recommendation about the Moderna vaccine applies only to those under the age of 31 in one European country, Belgium, and only to the two initial doses, not boosters.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate this claim Mostly False.

• • •

How to get tested

Tampa Bay: The Times can help you find the free, public COVID-19 testing sites in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

Florida: The Department of Health has a website that lists testing sites in the state. Some information may be out of date.

The U.S.: The Department of Health and Human Services has a website that can help you find a testing site.

• • •

How to get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and up and booster shots for eligible recipients are being administered at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and public vaccination sites. Many allow appointments to be booked online. Here’s how to find a site near you:

Find a site: Visit vaccines.gov to find vaccination sites in your ZIP code.

More help: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline.

Phone: 800-232-0233. Help is available in English, Spanish and other languages.

TTY: 888-720-7489

Disability Information and Access Line: Call 888-677-1199 or email DIAL@n4a.org.

• • •

More coronavirus coverage

OMICRON VARIANT: Omicron changed what we know about COVID. Here’s the latest on how the infectious COVID-19 variant affects masks, vaccines, boosters and quarantining.

KIDS AND VACCINES: Got questions about vaccinating your kid? Here are some answers.

BOOSTER SHOTS: Confused about which COVID booster to get? This guide will help.

BOOSTER QUESTIONS: Are there side effects? Why do I need it? Here’s the answers to your questions.

PROTECTING SENIORS: Here’s how seniors can stay safe from the virus.

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