False claims about first vaccine recipients spread on social media

10 December 2020
What was claimed

The same nurse was pictured vaccinating the first two recipients of the Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, despite them being 20 miles apart.

Our verdict

The first two patients were not 20 miles apart. They were at the same hospital in Coventry.

What was claimed

CNN used a photo of one of the vaccine recipients back in October.

Our verdict

It did not. CNN’s website has rolling news video at the top of some of its articles reflecting the current news, not the news at the time of that particular article’s publication.

Following the first UK vaccinations against Covid-19, various far-fetched falsehoods are spreading on social media about the people who were vaccinated. 

One post notified to us by readers on WhatsApp, which has also been shared on Facebook and Twitter, suggests the whole thing is a media cover up.

The post claims the same nurse was pictured vaccinating the first two patients despite them being 20 miles apart. 

The patients were not 20 miles apart. The first two patients to receive the vaccine, Margaret Keenan and William Shakespeare, were both vaccinated at University Hospital Coventry. Neither was vaccinated in Stratford-upon-Avon, as the post claims. 

Some media reports did note that University Hospital Coventry is just 20 miles away from the birthplace of the playwright William Shakespeare, which may be where the confusion lies. 

The post goes on to claim that CNN used a photo of Mr Shakespeare getting the vaccine back in October.

This is false. CNN’s website, like others, sometimes displays a video of rolling news at the top of articles. This reel may reflect the current news agenda rather than the news at the time of that particular article’s publication, and is not necessarily related to the article in question.

In this case, the article screenshotted in the posts is from 22 October. At the time of writing, this article has rolling news at the top, and one of the videos which appears is a report of the first vaccinations.

Suggesting that this video shows these vaccinations happened in October is as ridiculous as suggesting that, say, this article from the BBC in 2015 shows the BBC had advance knowledge about anything that appears in the current “most read” list.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the first two patients to receive the vaccine were not 20 miles apart, and CNN did not know about the vaccinations in October.

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