Instagram posts – Social media posts distort facts about childhood hepatitis outbreak, Johnson & Johnson vaccines
An outbreak of acute hepatitis of unknown origin has sickened dozens of children, mostly in Europe and North America. Now some on social media are misrepresenting its spread as a side effect of COVID-19 vaccines.
An Instagram post from April 22 shares a screenshot of a tweet suggesting hepatitis outbreaks are linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It reads: “Until appropriate long-term safety studies are performed, it is the duty of every healthcare provider (sic) to assume this is related.”
The tweet reads: “Children get hepatitis. It’s caused by (sic) an adenovirus. J&J had an adenovirus vector. Couldn’t be related.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with Facebook.)
At least one child has died and 17 have received liver transplants among 169 cases in 11 countries involving children aged one month to 16 years as of April 23. The vast majority of cases are in the UK, according to the World Health Organization. He said adenovirus is a possible cause of the outbreak, but investigations are ongoing.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by, among other things, viruses, according to the CDC. Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause a range of cold-like symptoms, the CDC said. It was detected in at least 74 of the hepatitis cases, the WHO said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an emergency alert on April 21 due to an outbreak involving nine children in Alabama. The agency has urged doctors to test hepatitis cases for adenovirus infection and report them.
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a virus-vectored vaccine that uses an adenovirus, but it can’t replicate and make you sick, according to the Mayo Clinic. Also, it was not given to children – the vaccine is only approved for people 18 and older.
Additionally, claims of a link to COVID-19 vaccines are unsubstantiated, the WHO said, because “the vast majority of affected children have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The UK Health Security Agency has also said there is no link to a COVID-19 vaccine as none of the UK’s confirmed cases are known to be in patients who have been vaccinated. Most hepatitis cases are in children under the age of 5, they said. No vaccine has yet been approved for children under 5 years of age.
An Instagram post alleges that a recent outbreak of hepatitis in children is linked to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
WHO and UK health officials said there was no link to a vaccine, as most cases were in unvaccinated children. The J&J vaccine is not approved for those under 18 and children under 5 are not eligible for any available COVID-19 vaccine. We rate this claim as false.