FactCheck Social Media

PM’s purported COVID jab ‘fraud’ is blunted by the evidence

2021-02-25 11:32:45

The Statement

A Facebook post claims Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s COVID-19 vaccination was faked, presenting as evidence that the needle involved was not typically used for inoculations.

The February 21 post includes a screenshot of text above an image bearing the 9 News logo and showing Mr Morrison with an orange-capped needle pressed into his upper arm.

Part of the text reads: “I have been a nurse for 16 years … Scott Morrison is a FRAUD. He is not getting the vaccine in this picture. The nurse is using a 25 gauge, 1 ml subcutaneous insulin syringe … For any intramuscular injections a 23-21 gauge needle – 3ml syringe combo is used. With a green or blue cap not orange … the joy of being a nurse! you don’t even have to SMELL the bullshit, you can SEE it from a distance!”

At the time of publication, the post had been shared more than 440 times and attracted more than 25,000 views. It is one of many claims made about the prime minister’s vaccination in social media posts, including several that falsely suggested the cap was still on the syringe used for the jab (see examples here, here and here).

A Facebook post
 A post claims PM Scott Morrison did not really receive the COVID-19 vaccination. 

The Analysis

Despite social media sceptics’ claims to the contrary, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among a small group of people who received the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccinations on February 21, 2021.

Mr Morrison was inoculated alongside Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, in an event covered on TV by ABC News, 7 News, 9 News and 10 News, as well as by various outlets online (examples here, here and here).

The prime minister tweeted that he got the injection in order to “give further confidence to Australians these vaccines, which have been tested and approved by our medical experts, are safe and effective”.

However, social media posts claimed the vaccination was faked, providing as supposed proof that the wrong syringe was used and that the safety cap was left on for the photo.

A Department of Health spokesman confirmed in an email to AAP FactCheck that the prime minister was vaccinated on Sunday, February 21, along with several aged-care residents, nurses, doctors, disability care residents and hotel quarantine workers.

Responding to claims that the wrong needle was used, he said: “The needles used were appropriate for the administration of the Pfizer vaccine and verified as appropriate against the clinical protocol.”

The post’s picture and news footage of the vaccine administration shows Mr Morrison being injected with a needle featuring an orange tip. According to the International Standard, the colour code for a 25-gauge needle is orange.

However, the text falsely states that this gauge of needle is not used for intramuscular vaccine injections. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine say needles with gauges from 22-25 should be used for the injection, which is performed in the deltoid muscle of the arm.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook also recommends the same range of needle sizes for adults for the administration of vaccines in general. News footage of the first COVID-19 vaccinations, for example from 7 News, show numerous other vaccine recipients being treated with similar orange-tipped needles.

The department told AAP FactCheck the prime minister’s vaccination “was real, delivered and supervised by trained clinicians and any suggestion that it was not is completely untrue”.

Claims that the safety cap was left on the syringe seen in media coverage of the vaccinations are also false. An AFP photo taken during Mr Morrison’s vaccination shows the needle against his upper arm, while the needle can also be seen going into his arm before being withdrawn in ABC footage (1min 46sec mark). The same events can be seen in 7 News footage (21min 30sec mark) and 10 News footage (1min 5sec mark).

Scott Morrison receives his COVID-19 vaccination
 PM Scott Morrison received his COVID-19 vaccination at Castle Hill in Sydney on February 21. 

The Verdict

The post falsely claims the prime minister’s COVID-19 vaccination was a fraud, presenting as evidence incorrect information about the types of needles used for the inoculation.

News footage and still images from the event confirm Mr Morrison received an injection, contrary to other false claims that the cap was left on the needle. The Department of Health said he was one of several people to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination on the day.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

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