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Video shows child having epileptic seizure, not COVID-19 vaccine reaction

May 17, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows a child shaking uncontrollably in response to the COVID-19 vaccine.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The child in the video has epilepsy and was experiencing a seizure, not responding to a COVID-19 vaccine, according to an Instagram post by his father. “Vaccines do not cause permanent seizure disorders” such as epilepsy, according to Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

THE FACTS: The video shows a young boy in an orange and blue shirt trembling as an adult woman soothes him, saying, “Come on, baby” and telling him to breathe.

Overlaid text on the clip reads, “But they’re safe right?!” and copies language about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization.

In a version that amassed more than 2 million views on Facebook, a second video alongside the first shows a woman crying and shaking her head in fear. All together, the post falsely implies the child’s physical symptoms are somehow related to the COVID-19 vaccine.

But the child’s symptoms have no relationship to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a May 6 Instagram post from the father of the boy in the video. The post explains that the child has epilepsy and has experienced seizures since 2009.

“No, nothing to do with Covid,” the post reads.

In the post, the father does claim that his son’s epilepsy is related to vaccines he received as a young child, but that is not supported by scientific evidence, Offit told The Associated Press.

“Vaccines do not cause epilepsy,” Offit said. One side effect of many vaccines is a fever, which can cause seizures in a small percentage of young children, Offit explained. But those seizures, known as febrile seizures, are “short-lived and do not cause permanent harm,” he said.

Data on the millions of COVID-19 vaccines administered so far does not show any link between the vaccines and seizure disorders, Offit said.

To date about 123 million Americans — 37% of the population — are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, and more than 157 million, or 47%, have received at least one dose.

U.S. health advisers endorsed the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 last week. The two-dose vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech was studied in more than 2,000 kids ages 12 to 15 and was found to be safe and effective.

Children who haven’t been vaccinated should still wear masks and keep 6 feet apart, according to the CDC, which recommends masks for children age 2 and older in public settings and when with people outside their household.

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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