Social media users have been told not to speculate on the cause of the boys' deaths, which have not yet been determined.
Social media users have falsely attributed the sudden deaths of two pupils from a school in Staffordshire, England, to the COVID-19 vaccine. There's no evidence for this, and no cause of death has been confirmed for either case.
One such post on Facebook states that two children had died following the vaccine rollout, and goes on to urge parents to stop their children from receiving the jab. The post has been shared more than 3,000 times over the past 24 hours (as of November 5, 2021).
Garrett Murray, headteacher of St John Fisher Catholic College, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, told the press that the cause of death had not been determined. Harry Towers, a Year 11 pupil at the school, died on October 30. Mohammed Habib, a year 11 pupil, died on October 26, Manchester Evening News reports.
Murray stressed that "the cause of each death has not yet been determined and out of respect for both families, we would ask people not to speculate, particularly on social media, at this very difficult time."
The U.K. government announced that it would rollout COVID-19 vaccines for 12-15-year-olds in September 2021. While children and adolescents are far less likely to become unwell with COVID-19, it was decided that vaccinating this group would be beneficial in helping to keep them in education and minimize disruption to their learning.
The move prompted a multitude of misleading and false posts on social media from anti-vaxx groups, suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for children and young people. As Logically has previously noted, many of these posts rely on VAERS, or the U.K's Yellow Card reporting system, which both act as passive records of adverse reactions and deaths following the vaccine. Several public health bodies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have said that neither database should be used to imply that the vaccine has caused serious health issues or fatalities.
Some have raised concerns about the chances of young people experiencing myocarditis or chest pain following the vaccine. According to USA Today, in Pfizer's recent clinical trial, none of the 3,000 children ages 5 to 11 who participated developed myocarditis. Two panels concluded that becoming unwell with COVID-19 posed a far greater risk to a child's health than side effects from the vaccine.
In conclusion, while the Facebook post in question does not directly state that the vaccine caused the two boys' deaths, it strongly implies that COVID-19 vaccines are responsible, which could prompt unfounded fears around the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. As such, it is misleading, as the cause of death has not been confirmed for either child.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.