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BBC footage shows COVID-19 vaccination with retractable needle

December 17, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows health care worker faking giving the COVID-19 vaccine in England with a “disappearing needle.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The health care worker in the BBC footage was using a safety syringe, which retracts.

THE FACTS: As video footage of COVID-19 vaccinations floods news channels and social platforms, some social media users are misrepresenting that footage to create a false narrative that health care workers are not actually being inoculated. The posts are being shared by people who oppose vaccines in order to spread doubt about the vaccine and the pandemic. 


Social media users are amplifying these false claims by sharing a nine-second BBC clip from Wednesday that shows a health care worker wearing a mask and face shield who is administering a vaccine into the arm of a patient. 

Posts misrepresenting the video were widely circulated on Twitter and Facebook. 

One Twitter video that falsely suggests the medical worker is faking the inoculation has been viewed more than 420,000 times. 

’“Disappearing needles!! There soo desperate, come on!!,” one tweet said. 

Another tweet said, “So far I have yet to see a real vaccine given to a patient. All fakes. May I present to you, the disappearing needle...Remember those collapsible toy knives we used to play with as kids?”

In reality, the videos show a health care worker using a safety syringe, which is retractable to prevent needlestick injuries that can spread diseases like hepatitis. 

Safety syringes have no impact on the amount of vaccine someone gets and are no different from receiving the vaccine through a traditional needle, said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Spencer received the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday. 

“What you saw in those videos are retractable needles,” he said. 

BBC debunked the footage earlier Thursday. A BBC spokesperson told the AP that the footage was genuine and showed a health care worker using a safety syringe. 


On Wednesday, social media users were sharing footage of a vaccine rehearsal in Germany that involved no needle to suggest that health care workers were not really administering the vaccine. Germany is still awaiting approval from European regulators before it can begin distributing the vaccine. 

“Most importantly, people need to be learning about vaccinations from trusted health sources like the CDC, not your aunt’s Facebook page or a viral tweet,” Spencer said. 


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: