VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post claiming vaccine killed five people in Tarlac FAKE

A fabricated message warning residents against vaccination that killed five people in Tarlac has been making the rounds on Facebook (FB), prompting local officials to issue a denial, calling it fake news.

The warning, which first appeared in private messaging applications, came amid a polio immunization program in Central Luzon, where Tarlac province is located.

The fake advice reads: “Pag my (sic) nag ikot ng vaccine galing brgy o city health wag kayo magp inject ah delikado 5 ang patay dito s tarlac now lng knina lng 9am sila nainject un mga tao n nag inject hnd n makita! Plss (sic) pass this para malaman ng iba..”

(If there’s someone going around with a vaccine from the barangay or city health [center], do not let yourself be injected. It’s dangerous. Five people have died in Tarlac, just earlier today at 9 a.m. The people who injected the vaccine can no longer be found. Please pass this so others will know.)

Government agencies have called this message a hoax. A keyword search yields no reports from legitimate media outlets on deaths in Tarlac province due to vaccines.

Tarlac City Mayor Cristy Angeles and the Tarlac City Information Office on Aug. 9 posted a statement on their FB pages saying the message is fake.

Walang katotohanan ang kumakalat na balita tungkol sa pagkamatay ng 5 tao dahil sa bakuna na galing sa mga Barangays at Health Centers (There is no truth to the reports about the death of five people due to a vaccine from the barangay or health center),” it said in its caption, while showing a screenshot of the message.

The Philippine Information Agency -Tarlac and the page of the municipal health office in Obando, Bulacan, shared the post by Tarlac City officials.

According to social media monitoring tool Crowdtangle, netizens began sharing the message as FB status posts on Aug. 8, while some uploaded screenshots of the fake information from their messaging apps. Two of the fake posts have combined shares of about 12,400.

They were shared in public groups on the social media platform, with one of the earliest versions appearing in a group for residents of Batangas in the afternoon of Aug. 9.

The Department of Health resumed last July 20 its polio immunization campaign in Central Luzon called “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (simultaneous drop against polio)” after being put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A post by Tarlac City mayor Angeles on Aug. 4 shows the city’s health workers going house-to-house administering free Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to children aged five years and below.

The campaign’s second phase will be conducted until August 16 in Tarlac and four other provinces in Central Luzon, according to several news reports.

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