A fake tweet purporting to be from an Australian health official has been shared on Facebook and Instagram.
The tweet, which has been made to appear as though it was written by New South Wales chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant, reads: “Great result from the children’s [Covid-19 vaccine] roll-out,only 3 deaths linked and 106 adverse reactions out of 377000 vaccines.I would say that is a better result than expected.
“Make sure you get your children’s vaccine done before school starts.”
The health ministry in New South Wales has issued a statement saying: “NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant did not author the Tweet or the Instagram post attributed to her, and the information contained in both of them is incorrect.”
Dr Chant’s Twitter account has since been temporarily deactivated. Reuters reported that this was to prevent further edited imagery being used by others in future to spread vaccine misinformation.
The latest data released on 20 January, covering the period to 16 January, shows that 11 deaths in total have been linked to the vaccines across the whole of Australia. At that point in time, 19.6 million Australians had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 46.1 million doses had been administered in total.
An earlier release from 2 December 2021, covering the period to 28 November, put the number of deaths at nine, and said that the youngest person who had died was a 34-year-old woman.
At that point, the deaths of two adolescents had been reported after vaccination but the health authorities had not linked these to the vaccine.
Spotting fake tweets
Comparing the fake tweet and real tweets from Dr Chant’s account, prior to deactivation, you can see some differences indicating the fake tweet was not genuine.
In real tweets, the word “January” is contracted to “Jan” in the date format, there is a period between the username and the date, and the words “Dr Kerry Chant” do not appear below the username.
That said, it is simple to fake convincing looking tweets and other social media posts, so any screenshotted post which does not link to the original should be treated with caution.
In recent weeks there have been various false reports of children dying from Covid-19 vaccines in Australia.
One particularly viral example claimed a seven-year-old called Lachlan Leary had died in Sydney.
On investigation, it turned out that the hospital at which he was claimed to have died had no record of treating any child with that description, and the New South Wales Ministry of Health said it could not locate any record of such an incident.
You can read more about the case here.
Image courtesy of Agência Brasília via Wikimedia Commons.