A satirical caption in a South African newspaper under a picture of a British woman getting the vaccine has caused confusion

7 January 2021
What was claimed

The same image of an elderly woman being vaccinated has been used by the media to show a woman called Joan being vaccinated in Manchester and a woman called Susan getting vaccinated in South Africa.

Our verdict

The picture is of a woman called Joan Burgess being vaccinated in Manchester. The picture appeared in a South African newspaper with a joke caption in part of the paper which is usually satirical.

A post on Facebook claims that the same picture of an elderly woman being vaccinated has been captioned as being both a woman in Manchester called Joan and a woman called Susan in South Africa.

The original image was taken on 17 December 2020. It shows a woman called Joan Burgess getting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a drive through vaccination centre in Hyde, Manchester, as the left hand side of the Facebook post shows.

The image on the other side of the post looks to be a photograph of a newspaper, and has a very small caption underneath it. This appears to claim the woman is 78 year-old Susan Smit. That newspaper, called Rapport, is a South African newspaper published in Afrikaans. The caption jokes that the vaccine taken by ‘Susan Smit’ has placed her under direct control of Bill Gates.

Rapport has since clarified on its Facebook page that the photo was of a British woman and published with a satirical caption, and appeared in a part of the paper usually reserved for satirical content.

A Facebook-auto translated version of the statement said:

“Rapport's opinion schedule Weekly published a photo of a British woman getting the Covid-19 vaccine in the past week. It appeared in a specific space on bl. 3 of the appendix in which we publish a photo with a satirical caption each week. The information in the caption was - as is the case every week - imaginary and not intended to be literally role. The same photo was the newspaper's front page picture the previous week (20 December) and was there accompanied by the correct information and names. Rapport accepts that the satirical caption offended some readers and apologizes for it.”

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 missing context because the woman is called Joan and the picture was taken in Manchester and the version that appeared in a South African newspaper had a satirical and non-factual caption underneath it.

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