VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Clips of older adults getting ‘shots of air’ instead of COVID-19 jabs NOT taken in PH

A series of four clips showing COVID-19 jabs being improperly administered in older adults uploaded a month ago continues to circulate among Filipinos this June. The Facebook (FB) user who uploaded the clips did not state where the videos were taken, leading people in the comments section to speculate. One advised to report such incidents to the Department of Health.

The FB post needs context. The videos, posted last May 3, were indeed of older people being improperly inoculated but were taken in countries in the Americas, not locally.

Its caption read: “Pagmasdan nyo nga mabuti kung may nakapasok ba na gamot (Observe carefully whether or not the drug was injected)???”

Three of the clips are from Brazil, where police are investigating reports of healthcare workers giving “shots of air” to elderly people instead of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine. One footage is from Mexico.

Manaus, Brazil

The first clip shows an older woman in a white blouse being inoculated in her car, but the syringe plunger did not appear to have been pushed down. It can be traced via reverse image search and cursory Google search to a tweet and a news report in early February both stating it was taken at the city of Manaus in Brazil’s Amazonas state.

In an FB post, the local government of Manaus announced an immediate investigation of the case. It said the medical staffer responsible for the vaccination, who was given a warning, reported that a defect in the syringe led to the vaccine dose to leak out.

Zacatenco, Mexico

The second clip is of an older man who went to the National Polytechnic Institute at Zacatenco in Mexico City to get inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine. According to reports, the man’s nephew posted the video on Twitter on April 3 and complained that a nurse stuck a needle into his uncle’s arm without pushing in any liquid.

Social media users began doubting Mexico’s vaccination plan after the clip emerged.

On April 4, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) confirmed that the volunteer who vaccinated the older man made a “mistake,” and said she was removed from her post. An apology was offered to the man and his family, and the man was correctly administered a COVID-19 vaccine.

Goiânia, Brazil

The third video shows 88-year-old Floramy de Oliveira Jordão getting vaccinated in the city of Goiânia, Brazil. As seen in a Feb. 10 video recording by her 57-year-old daughter Luciana, a nurse pricked Floramy’s arm with a syringe but did not inject the COVID-19 shot.

The older woman was inoculated properly only after her daughter questioned the administering nurse about the liquid that remained in the syringe.

The Goiânia city health department announced that the health worker in question was removed from the vaccination campaign. The public minister of the state of Goiás said her office would investigate the matter, while the Regional Nursing Council of Goiás would implement an ethical-disciplinary procedure to look into the nurse’s conduct.

Belém, Brazil

The final clip, captured on March 25 and featured in multiple Brazilian news reports, showed an older man who went to get vaccinated at the University of the State of Pará in Belém, Brazil. The nurse inserted a needle into the man’s arm but squirted the vaccine dose to the ground.

A day later, the city government of Belem announced in an FB post that the incident was an “isolated case,” and that the man was properly vaccinated that morning at his home.

The Filipino netizen’s FB post has been viewed over 604,000 times, and got 1,900 reactions, 2,900 comments, and over 84,000 shares as of publishing. It continued to get engagement this month as the country began inoculating economic frontline workers under A4 priority.

Some of the videos have also circulated in other countries and given context by fact-checking organizations VoxCheck in Ukraine, Factly in India, and MAFINDO in Indonesia.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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