FACT CHECK: Did The Chief Health Officer Of New South Wales Celebrate Having ‘Only 3 Deaths’ In Children Attributed To The COVID Vaccine?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a tweet from New South Wales (NSW) Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant celebrating that only three deaths were associated with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for children.
The tweet is digitally fabricated. Australia’s NSW Health Department confirmed Chant never published this tweet.
A screen grab of a tweet, purportedly sent Jan. 15 by Chant, has circulated on Facebook recently, seemingly cheering the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine for children, while highlighting the alleged deaths of three children from adverse reactions.
“Great result from the children’s roll-out, only 3 deaths linked and 106 adverse reactions out of 377000 vaccines,” the purported tweet reads, in part. “I would say that is a better result than expected.” (RELATED: Did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tweet, ‘I Got COVID Because Republicans Can’t Date Me’?)
The tweet is digitally fabricated. The format of the handle and date don’t match that of a typical tweet, an immediate indicator that the tweet isn’t real. Chant’s official Twitter account, @NSWCHO, has been deactivated and no longer exists. The handle mentioned in the fake tweet is not associated with Chant. Chant’s account was closed in January 2022 after her official tweets were digitally edited to spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Daily Mail.
A look at a September 2021 online archive of Chant’s Twitter account before it was deactivated revealed her most recent activity was a retweet from NSW health on June 17, 2021, seven months before Australia began rolling out vaccines for children ages five to 11. There is also no credible news report suggesting Chant made such a comment regarding the rollout.
NSW Health confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that Chant “did not author the Tweet” or a similar Instagram post “attributed to her and the information contained in both of them is incorrect.” The agency confirmed that her Twitter account had been temporarily deactivated to “prevent further edited imagery.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration provisionally approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11 year-olds in Australia on Dec. 5, 2021, according to a press release from the Australian Department of Health (DOH). Australia began distributing the vaccine for the age group Jan. 10, a later press release announced.
New South Wales Health has not made any mention of child deaths from the Pfizer vaccine since the rollout began. There were 54 reports of adverse side effects in the five to 11 year old age group as of Jan. 16, according to the TGA’s weekly COVID-19 report released on Jan. 20. There were no reported deaths in the age group.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the COVID-19 vaccines “safe and effective” for children five or older, adding that serious health events after vaccination are rare.