No evidence Australian child ‘Lachlan Leary’ died from vaccine

21 January 2022
What was claimed

A seven-year-old boy called Lachlan Leary died from the Covid-19 vaccine in Sydney.

Our verdict

There is no evidence to suggest this is true. Official sources have denied the claims, and Full Fact could find no trace of the story reported via reputable news outlets.

Numerous posts across Facebook, Twitter and unreliable “news” sites claim that a seven-year-old boy named Lachlan Leary recently died in Sydney, Australia, after being vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The posts take the form of what appears to be a screenshot of a Facebook comment made by an account identified as Steve Leary. Mr Leary claims that his previous posts have been censored by fact checkers, details the incidents he claims led to his son’s “massive heart attack” and death, and warns other parents not to vaccinate their children. 

Full Fact could find no evidence to substantiate these claims or any active Facebook accounts which appeared to match the profile picture for Mr Leary’s account in the screenshot.  We could only find the comment presented as a screenshot.

Furthermore, the only references we could find to Lachlan Leary’s death on Facebook were the screenshotted comment from Mr Leary—no tributes or pictures, as would often be found following the news of a death shared online. 

A Google search for “Lachlan Leary Sydney” did not return any articles from reliable news sources. Furthermore, some of the news sites reporting the story also include a picture of a man they identify as Mr Leary. A search for this picture using Google Lens reveals that the man pictured is called Steve Leary. However, he appears to live in the USA and formerly served as mayor of the city of Winter Park in Florida having been first elected in 2015. According to his own website Mr Leary pictured has triplets, which does not match the family described in the Facebook comment or subsequent articles.  

There are few verifiable sources of information mentioned, but the apparent Facebook comment does specifically name Westmead Hospital in Sydney. A spokesperson for the adjacent children’s hospital has responded to comments on social media about the story, stating: “There are many inaccurate posts currently circulating on social media. There is no record of any child having passed away following COVID vaccination at our hospital.”

The hospital has also publicly shared a local news report about misinformation surrounding vaccines for children, urging people to “be mindful of misleading and inaccurate posts circulating on social media”. 

A spokesperson for the Westmead Hospital (not the children’s hospital) told fact checking service Snopes: “As Westmead Hospital is not a paediatric hospital, we did not treat any children with those symptoms in the time period indicated.” 

Snopes also included a quote from the New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of Health, which states: “NSW Health has not been able to locate any record of any such incident”. 

The fact that there is no mention of his story across trusted news sources, clear rebuttals of the claims from official medical and local government sources and evidence his picture has been taken from an apparently unrelated man’s page indicate that this story is false. 

Image courtesy of Spencer Davis, via Unsplash.

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 there is no evidence to substantiate the claims, and there have been clear rebuttals from officials in Sydney.

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