FACT CHECK: Viral Image Falsely Claims Hank Aaron Was ‘Killed’ By A COVID-19 Vaccine

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims the late Major League Baseball (MLB) legend Hank Aaron was killed by the COVID-19 vaccine.

Verdict: False

There is no indication Aaron’s death was caused by his COVID-19 vaccination. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office, which examined his body, has said that he died of natural causes.

Fact Check:

Aaron, a Baseball Hall of Fame member, passed away Jan. 22 at the age of 86. He is remembered by many as the baseball legend who, among other accomplishments, eclipsed Babe Ruth’s long-standing home run record in 1974, according to ESPN.

Following his death, Facebook users started sharing a collage of news headlines about him along with claims that he was “killed” by a COVID-19 vaccine. Aaron had received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine about two weeks prior, according to a post on his verified Twitter account.

“I was proud to get the COVID-19 vaccine earlier today at Morehouse School of Medicine,” he tweeted. “I hope you do the same!”

But, contrary to the claims in Facebook posts, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine “killed” Aaron. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office in Georgia told the news outlet 11 Alive that Aaron’s cause of death was natural and that there is no indication the vaccine contributed to his death. The Braves, his long-time team, also said in a statement that he died “peacefully in his sleep.”

Morehouse School of Medicine, where Aaron received the COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 5, released a statement to the news outlet CBS 42 that reads in part, “His passing was not related to the vaccine, nor did he experience any side effects from the immunization.” (RELATED: Viral Post Falsely Claims The First UK COVID-19 Vaccine Recipient Is A Crisis Actor)

Medical experts such as Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at the Emory University School of Medicine, also pushed back on the notion that Aaron’s death was connected to his vaccination. Del Rio told NBC News that he has “absolute confidence that his death has nothing to do with the vaccine and it has to do with the fact that he was old and frail.”

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 18. The FDA said in a Dec. 17 briefing document that it found “no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA.” The vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who “received two doses who had no evidence of being previously infected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reports that over 26 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered as of Jan. 28.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
Follow Brad on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]