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Video of vaccination in Toronto does not show ‘fake’ needle

December 18, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows COVID-19 vaccine recipient in Toronto was given a “fake” needle.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Social media users shared a video of a health care worker in Toronto receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with false claims that the needle was “fake” because fluid leaked out while she was being injected. Experts say that it’s common for leakage to happen during an injection.

THE FACTS: Canada’s health regulator approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech last week. On Dec. 14, Tamara Dus, director of health services at University Health Network, administered the first vaccinations at the Michener Institute of Education in Toronto. Canadian news networks posted a video that shows Dus giving the vaccine to Cecile Lasco, a personal support worker at the Rekai Centres, a long-term care home. Lasco was one of the first to receive the vaccine in Canada.

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In the video, while Lasco is being injected with the vaccine, liquid drips on her arm. Social media users then posted the clip with false claims.

“Isn’t that the fakest looking needle you’ve ever seen? Why is there so much fluid leaking from the needle? Why isn’t the skin irritated or red at the injection site? Who knew the vaccines geeked so much!” an Instagram user who shared the clip wrote. The post had over 45,000 views.

“This was on CTV this morning.THAT IS THE FAKEST LOOKING NEEDLE INJECTION I’VE EVER SEEN!! First of all... fluid should not be leaking from the needle!! Second of all.. look at when she takes it out. Skin is intact, not red or irritated. Is this a joke,” wrote another Instagram user who shared the video.

“It is not uncommon after receiving a vaccine, that some of the vaccine will come back through the puncture made by the needle,” Gillian Howard, a spokeswoman at University Health Network, explained to The Associated Press in an email. “We have also looked at the syringes to ensure that there is a tight lock of the needle to the syringe.”

Sarah Kirchofer, nurse practitioner and interim director of occupational health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reviewed the video and told the AP in a call that this type of leakage can happen when the syringe isn’t sufficiently tightened to the needle. “It’s something that we see a lot,” Kirchofer said. “It’s definitely not an indication that there was a fake needle.”

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Kirchofer also administered Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week. “In my experience so far in our vaccine clinic, things have gone extremely well,” she said.

Howard said that UHN has been in touch with Pfizer and Lasco, the health worker who received the shot, about the incident. “Because this was aired live and people are not aware that this sometimes happens with vaccination, we appreciate the interest,” she said. “However, the idea that this is fake is without merit and irresponsible in the extreme.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536