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Video clip of Ohio school board meeting spreads vaccine falsehoods

August 24, 2021 GMT

A 4-minute video clip of a man sharing several misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines during a school board meeting in Ohio is making the rounds online. At the Talawanda School District meeting on Aug. 16, Sean Brooks introduced himself as a doctor who has a Ph.D. According to his website, it is in education rather than science. The video of his comments was shared widely on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. One clip on TikTok received more than 2 million likes. Brooks did not return a request for comment.

Here are some of his key claims and the facts.


CLAIM: Dr. Robert Malone, who created the messenger RNA vaccine, has said no one should ever take these jabs.

THE FACTS: While Malone has publicly criticized COVID-19 vaccines and claims to have invented the idea of mRNA vaccine technology, he was not involved in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I did not develop mRNA COVID vaccines and I never was involved in developing a human mRNA vaccine,” Malone told The Associated Press.

Malone further clarified in an email that he never said that the COVID-19 vaccines should not be administered.

In fact, multiple scientists contributed to the development of mRNA vaccine technology over many years. The messenger RNA, also known as mRNA, vaccines work by delivering a piece of genetic code from the spike protein of the coronavirus to train the immune system to react.

The AP has reported on the two different streams of research -- neither of which involved Malone -- that led to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.


CLAIM: People who have been vaccinated are going to die in the next six months to three to five years.

THE FACTS: No evidence can be found to back up this prophecy. Data from millions of people who have been vaccinated shows COVID-19 vaccines do not cause death, but rather prevent it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer for its messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The FDA had previously granted Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines based on safety data that tracked more than 70,000 people through clinical trials. For emergency use authorization approval, trial participants are followed up two months after their last dose.

The FDA reviews six months of safety data before granting full approval. “The safety data now exists for a full year and in some cases 18 months,” said Dr. Matthew Woodruff, an immunologist at Emory University. “We have seen over and over again no indications that the immune responses to these vaccines are functionally different to immune responses from other vaccines.”


CLAIM: People who have been vaccinated have decreased their own immune system by 35 percent. That means if they take a booster shot, including a flu shot in the future, they will die.

THE FACTS: COVID-19 vaccines do not decrease immune response. In fact, the vaccines boost the body’s ability to mount an immune reaction against COVID-19, which is why health officials are encouraging those who have already had the virus to get the vaccine. Brooks’ claim about the flu shot is easily refuted with data. Flu shots were available last winter, just as people began receiving COVID-19 shots, and deaths were not reported. Nor has there been any data indicating negative health effects for people who receive a flu shot after a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has recommended getting the flu shot throughout the ongoing pandemic even after COVID-19 vaccines began being administered.


CLAIM: COVID-19 vaccines will prompt the body into a process known as “antibody dependent enhancement” which will lead to cytokine storms and death.

THE FACTS: Studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines do not cause antibody dependent enhancement. The phenomenon occurs when antibodies wind up helping a virus rather than destroy it. On some rare occasions, antibody dependent enhancement has occurred following certain vaccines, such as the dengue virus vaccine. Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan disease specialist, previously told the AP the phenomenon of antibody dependent enhancement “hasn’t been seen” with COVID-19 vaccines.

Brooks’ claims about cytokine storms, a kind of inflammatory immune reaction, are also false. Cytokine storms are associated with COVID-19 infections but have not been recorded as a reaction to the available vaccines.


CLAIM: The vaccine will sterilize children permanently, and 80 percent of women who have been jabbed have lost their children in the first trimester.

THE FACTS: Medical professionals agree that COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility, do not cause sterilization and are safe for pregnant people. A Pfizer study found that just as many women who were given the vaccine became pregnant as those who received placebo shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging pregnant women to receive the vaccine, particularly since pregnant women are at elevated risk for severe disease if they contract coronavirus.

Additionally, Brooks’ comment that 80 percent of women miscarried is not backed up by any evidence and is contradicted by data. A CDC analysis found that 2,500 women who recieved a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy showed no increased risk of miscarriage.


CLAIM: People who are vaccinated are not allowed to donate blood and blood plasma.

THE FACTS: Blood centers are accepting blood from people who have received the COVID-19 vaccines and are encouraging vaccinated individuals to give blood. The American Red Cross has said that as long as individuals are symptom free and feeling well at the time of donation, they can donate blood after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The American Association of Blood Banks has also said that the U.S.Food and Drug Administration’s blood donation eligibility criteria allow people who have received vaccines authorized in the U.S. to give blood.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.