- Myths and false stories about the COVID-19 vaccines been rampantly spreading on parenting Facebook groups (also often referred to as “Mommy Facebook groups”).
- Among the myths most commonly shared in these groups are claims that the vaccines cause infertility, which is false.
- Experts say the most reliable source of information about the pandemic is the CDC.
The spread of medical myths and misinformation isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been an ongoing issue in the age of social media.
However, the problem seems to have expanded faster and further than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In part, this has been due to the fact that the disease is relatively new, leaving many people to latch on to conspiracy theories and false “facts” in their search for answers.
In particular, a growing number of conspiracy theories and false stories about the COVID-19 vaccines have been rampantly spreading on parenting Facebook groups (also often referred to as “Mommy Facebook groups”).
To combat the spread of misinformation, Healthline asked medical experts to help debunk some of the most common conspiracy theories and myths about the COVID-19 vaccines that are frequently shared on social media.
“You’re letting yourself be used as a science experiment” is a common retort seen on parenting social media groups when a person shares that they’ve been vaccinated.
But according to epidemiologist and Walden University Core Faculty member Vasileios Margaritis, PhD, MS, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Although it seems that COVID-19 vaccines were developed in a record time, this is one of medical research’s greatest achievements,” Margaritis said. “They are the result of an unprecedented international scientific collaboration as well as of an enormous financial and human resources allocation.”
He explained that the technology for these vaccines has actually existed for many years. The vaccine manufacturers were only able to develop these vaccines now because of the hard work that had previously been done.
That, combined with the large amount of funding and effort that went into moving that work forward once a need arose, allowed for these lifesaving vaccines to be developed now.
“All laboratory and clinical trials were conducted in compliance with the most rigorous rules, standards and ethical criteria, without compromising the safety of the participants,” Margaritis said. “The vaccines were approved quickly for emergency use because red tape was cut, not corners.”
And even now, he said, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the scientific community is continuing to closely monitor the vaccination process worldwide to ensure the safety of vaccinated populations.
According to epidemiologist and public health expert at Parenting Pod, Elizabeth Beatriz, PhD, this claim originated with a letter that shared incorrect information about what was in the vaccines to begin with.
“Even though the information is false, it spread like wildfire,” Beatriz said.
She also explained that several women involved in the vaccine trials actually got pregnant shortly after vaccination — meaning they weren’t rendered infertile from the vaccine.
“It is especially important for women who are pregnant or are thinking about getting pregnant to get the vaccine,” added Beatriz, “because if they were to get COVID, the risk of serious consequences are higher if you are pregnant.”
Margaritis explained that this is a very popular myth for one clear reason.
“The national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) accepts and analyzes reports of all health problems after vaccination,” he said. “Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, even the general public, but this report does not mean that a vaccine caused the detected health problem — death included.”
While VAERS can give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA important information (leading to further investigations and actions when necessary), it can be misleading to read too much into those reports without the benefit of context or a scientific background.
“When we are vaccinating millions of people globally, unfortunately, many of them will die for reasons that are unrelated to their body’s response to the vaccine,” Margaritis explained.
What we do know is this: Nearly 600,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone — making the infection itself the more dangerous scenario.
This myth arose from information similar to the infertility myth, and it’s equally inaccurate.
“Many women have gotten the vaccine while pregnant and successfully come to term with beautiful, healthy babies,” Beatriz said. “This includes women who were in the clinical trial (who got pregnant after vaccination) and women who have gotten vaccinated while pregnant since the vaccine has become available more widely.”
Vaccine myths seem to cater to people’s fears, and this one is no different. Not only does it convince those who believe it not to get vaccinated themselves, it also encourages them to alienate themselves from the vaccinated population. And of course, there’s no truth to it.
“The vaccine works by promoting an immune response in the person vaccinated. It doesn’t give you a disease that can spread to other people,” Beatriz explained. “The vaccine won’t harm the person vaccinated. It will just encourage a healthy immune response — and it won’t harm the people around them.”
This is absolutely false.
“There isn’t any research to support this claim, and based on how vaccines work, there is no reason to believe that the vaccine could harm mom or baby,” Beatriz said.
“In fact, there is some research that shows that women who get vaccinated while breastfeeding can actually protect the breastfeeding children from COVID by sharing the antibodies through their breastmilk.”
“We need to make clear that there are different types of vaccine efficacy, such as efficacy to prevent infection and efficacy to prevent symptomatic or severe disease,” Margaritis said.
In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, he explained that almost all the Phase 3 vaccine trials were specifically designed to assess efficacy to prevent symptomatic diseases first, and efficacy against infection and severe disease second.
“Given this study design, a 95 percent vaccine efficacy suggests that a vaccinated person has a 95 percent reduced risk of having a symptomatic disease compared to an equivalent unvaccinated individual,” Margaritis explained.
“Although we have encouraging data that the vaccines distributed in United States can also prevent infection entirely, we are not yet sure about it; therefore, people can receive vaccines and also still potentially get infected, but their disease severity is minimized.”
It may take some time to verify how well the vaccine prevents infection, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t protect against COVID-19 — because it absolutely does.
There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the mRNA vaccines and how they work within the body.
“mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are injected into the arm to teach muscle cells how to make part of the spike protein of the novel coronavirus,” Margaritis said. “Then, an immune response toward this protein is made, and if the virus gets into our body, our immune system is already trained to attack it.”
He explained that mRNA is naturally made by the body, but that the mRNA from vaccines isn’t made in or going into the nucleus of the cells, where the DNA is actually contained.
“In addition, the mRNA from the vaccines is destroyed by the cell after the instructions are read so there is no circulation of this inserted mRNA in our body, and we just have the developed immune protection,” he said.
In other words: Your DNA is safe. And anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t understand how these vaccines have been designed to work.
Beatriz said there are two reasons everyone should get the vaccine, even those who have been previously gotten the infection.
“The immunity that you get from being infected with COVID only appears to last for a couple of months while the immunity from the vaccine lasts longer,” she said. “So if you had it a while ago, you may be vulnerable again, or if you had it recently, you will be protected longer with the vaccine.”
The other factor, she said, is that there are now multiple variants of COVID-19. Contracting the virus once only provides immunity to that specific variant, whereas the vaccine appears to reduce the risk for a variety of variants.
Vaccine myths often spread because they speak to the fears people already have, and in some cases, that’s done with intention.
“Most of these claims have actually started from anti-vaccination advocates who have for decades spread false claims about vaccines and have spread confusion,” Beatriz explained. “The claims are deliberately misleading and take advantage of people’s fears.”
This is why it’s so important to pay attention to where information is coming from and to do your own research through reliable sources.
“The most reliable source of information is the CDC,” Beatriz said. “The CDC puts out information in multiple languages and addresses each of these concerns.”
Locally, she said you can reach out to your personal doctor and public health officials, as well.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she encouraged. “There is a lot of bad information out there, and knowing where that bad information comes from can help you get the facts you need to be safe.”
“With [a growing number] of the adult population vaccinated, we are well on our way to achieving herd immunity. But that can only happen if more people commit to protecting themselves and others — which makes debunking vaccine myths all that much more important,” she said.
Introducing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0
Today, we are releasing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0. As part of this release, we are highlighting changes below that we believe are relevant to parts of our developer community. These changes include announcements, product updates, and notifications on deprecations that we believe are relevant to your application(s)’ integration with our platform.
For a complete list of all changes and their details, please visit our changelog.
Consolidation of Audience Location Status Options for Location Targeting
As previously announced in May 2023, we have consolidated Audience Location Status to our current default option of “People living in or recently in this location” when choosing the type of audience to reach within their Location Targeting selections. This update reflects a consolidation of other previously available options and removal of our “People traveling in this location” option.
We are making this change as part of our ongoing efforts to deliver more value to businesses, simplify our ads system, and streamline our targeting options in order to increase performance efficiency and remove options that have low usage.
This update will apply to new or duplicated campaigns. Existing campaigns created prior to launch will not be entered in this new experience unless they are in draft mode or duplicated.
Add “add_security_recommendation” and “code_expiration_minutes” to WA Message Templates API
Earlier this year, we released WhatsApp’s authentication solution which enabled creating and sending authentication templates with native buttons and preset authentication messages. With the release of Graph API v18, we’re making improvements to the retrieval of authentication templates, making the end-to-end authentication template process easier for BSPs and businesses.
With Graph API v18, BSPs and businesses can have better visibility into preset authentication message template content after creation. Specifically, payloads will return preset content configuration options, in addition to the text used by WhatsApp. This improvement can enable BSPs and businesses to build “edit” UIs for authentication templates that can be constructed on top of the API.
Note that errors may occur when upgrading to Graph API v18 if BSPs or businesses are taking the entire response from the GET request and providing it back to the POST request to update templates. To resolve, the body/header/footer text fields should be dropped before passing back into the API.
Re-launching dev docs and changelogs for creating Call Ads
- Facebook Reels Placement for Call Ads
Meta is releasing the ability to deliver Call Ads through the Facebook Reels platform. Call ads allow users to call businesses in the moment of consideration when they view an ad, and help businesses drive more complex discussions with interested users. This is an opportunity for businesses to advertise with call ads based on peoples’ real-time behavior on Facebook. Under the Ad set Level within Ads Manager, businesses can choose to add “Facebook Reels” Under the Placements section.
- Re-Launching Call Ads via API
On September 12, 2023, we’re providing updated guidance on how to create Call Ads via the API. We are introducing documentation solely for Call Ads, so that 3P developers can more easily create Call Ads’ campaigns and know how to view insights about their ongoing call ad campaigns, including call-related metrics. In the future, we also plan to support Call Add-ons via our API platform. Developers should have access to the general permissions necessary to create general ads in order to create Call Ads via the API platform.
Please refer to developer documentation for additional information.
Deprecations & Breaking Changes
Graph API changes for user granular permission feature
We are updating two graph API endpoints for WhatsAppBusinessAccount. These endpoints are as follows:
- Retrieve message templates associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account
- Retrieve phone numbers associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account
With v18, we are rolling out a new feature “user granular permission”. All existing users who are already added to WhatsAppBusinessAccount will be backfilled and will continue to have access (no impact).
The admin has the flexibility to change these permissions. If the admin changes the permission and removes access to view message templates or phone numbers for one of their users, that specific user will start getting an error message saying you do not have permission to view message templates or phone numbers on all versions v18 and older.
Deprecate legacy metrics naming for IG Media and User Insights
Starting on September 12, Instagram will remove duplicative and legacy, insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API in order to share a single source of metrics to our developers.
This new upgrade reduces any confusion as well as increases the reliability and quality of our reporting.
After 90 days of this launch (i.e. December 11, 2023), we will remove all these duplicative and legacy insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API on all versions in order to be more consistent with the Instagram app.
We appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received from our developer community, and look forward to continuing to work together.
Deprecate all Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 endpoints
Facebook Wi-Fi was designed to improve the experience of connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots at businesses. It allowed a merchant’s customers to get free Wi-Fi simply by checking in on Facebook. It also allowed merchants to control who could use their Wi-Fi and for how long, and integrated with ads to enable targeting to customers who had used the merchant’s Wi-Fi. This product was deprecated on June 12, 2023. As the partner notice period has ended, all endpoints used by Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 have been deprecated and removed.
API Version Deprecations:
- September 14, 2023: Graph API v11.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
- February 8, 2024: Graph API v12.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
- May 28, 2024: Graph API v13.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
- September 20, 2023: Marketing API v14.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
- September 20, 2023: Marketing API v15.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
- February 06, 2024: Marketing API v16.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
To avoid disruption to your business, we recommend migrating all calls to the latest API version that launched today.
Facebook Platform SDK
As part of our 2-year deprecation schedule for Platform SDKs, please note the upcoming deprecations and sunsets:
- October 2023: Facebook Platform SDK v11.0 or below will be sunset
- February 2024: Facebook Platform SDK v12.0 or below will be sunset
First seen at developers.facebook.com
Allowing Users to Promote Stories as Ads (via Marketing API)
Before today (August 28, 2023), advertisers could not promote images and/or videos used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API. This process created unwanted friction for our partners and their customers.
After consistently hearing about this pain point from our developer community, we have removed this unwanted friction for advertisers and now allow users to seamlessly promote their image and/or video media used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API as of August 28, 2023.
We appreciate all the feedback received from our developer community, and hope to continue improving your experience.
Please review the developer documentation to learn more.
First seen at developers.facebook.com
Launching second release of Facebook Reels API: An enterprise solution for desktop and web publishers
We’re excited to announce that the second release of FB Reels API is now publicly available for third-party developers. FB Reels API enables users of third-party platforms to share Reels directly to public Facebook Pages and the New Pages Experience.
FB Reels API has grown significantly since the first release in September 2022. The new version of the APIs now support custom thumbnails, automatic music tagging, tagging collaborators, longer format of reels and better error handling.
FB Reels API will also support scheduling and draft capability to allow creators to take advantage of tools provided either by Meta or by our partners. Based on the feedback we received from our partners, we’ll now provide additional audio insights via the Audio Recommendations API and reels performance metrics via the Insights API.
Our goal in the next couple of releases is to continue to make it easier for creators to develop quality content by adding features like early copyright detection and A/B testing. We’re also excited to start working on enhanced creation features like Video clipping- so stay tuned to hear more about those features in the future.
If you are a developer interested in integrating with the Facebook Reels API, please refer to the Developer Documents for more info.
Not sure if this product is for you? Check out our entire suite of sharing offerings.
Tune in to Product @scale event to learn more about FB Video APIs and hear from some of our customers.
First seen at developers.facebook.com
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