FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show An NHS Poster Linking The COVID-19 Vaccine With Bell’s Palsy?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a poster from England’s National Health Service (NHS) that warns COVID-19 vaccines could cause Bell’s Palsy.
The aforementioned poster is not from an official government source. Studies have not found a conclusive link between COVID-19 vaccines and Bell’s Palsy.
The image shows what appears to be an NHS poster that was allegedly found on a street near Heathrow, England. The words, “Public Health Warning” are written across the top of the poster, followed by “COVID-19 Vaccine Causes Bell’s Palsy” written across the bottom. The poster features an image of what appears to be a patient with Bell’s Palsy.
There is no evidence that the poster comes from the NHS. Such an advertisement does not appear on the NHS website’s coronavirus materials page. There is likewise no record of it on the organization’s “News” page or on its official Twitter page. (RELATED: Did The World Health Organization Create This Poster Stating ‘We’re In This Forever’?)
Cavan Griffin, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which oversees the NHS, confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact, “That’s not a genuine poster and has since been removed.”
A reverse image search revealed the picture of the woman used in the poster traced back to the stock photo website, Alamy. The website dates the picture from October 2011, far before the COVID-19 pandemic, and makes no reference to vaccines in the description.
Bell’s Palsy is a condition caused by facial nerve damage, leading to weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles, according to John Hopkins Medicine. The condition can begin suddenly and worsen over 48 hours and can occur in people with an upper respiratory ailment.
Moderna and Pfizer each found four reported cases of Bell’s Palsy in their respective clinical vaccine trials in December 2020, according to CNBC. Currently, available information is deemed “insufficient to determine a causal relationship” from the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also says current data is insufficient to make a conclusion and encourages those with a history of Bell’s Palsy to receive the vaccine.
A study published in the Lancet medical journal in January 2022, titled “The association between COVID-19 vaccination and Bell’s palsy,” found no definitive evidence or clear link between COVID-19 vaccines and the condition. An October 2021 study from the University of Tokyo titled, “Facial nerve palsy following the administration of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines: analysis of a self-reporting database,” declared the condition as a “non-serious” adverse effect.