Herpes has been trending on Twitter after the media outlet The New York Post and others publish articles linking the COVID-19 vaccines to the STD through their headlines.
— New York Post (@nypost) April 20, 2021
The Post’s headline states, “Herpes infection possibly linked to COVID-19 vaccine, study says.” However, the actual article is focused on how certain people who received the vaccine have developed shingles, a disease commonly associated with the virus varicella-zoster aka Herpes zoster known for causing chickenpox, not the Herpes STD according to the Mayo Clinic website.
The article further elaborates that the study was a small sample in Jerusalem and that, out of the 491 patients tested, the six people who were infected by shingles already had chickenpox at earlier points in their lives, complicating the idea that the vaccine directly brought out the disease within the recipients.
Much of Twitter responded negatively to these headlines at the best believing this to be an unethical way of baiting readers to the articles put out by the participating outlets, or at the worst another way for right wing media groups to discredit the vaccines in another bizarre attempt to preserve political power.
this is dishonest & inflammatory. the virus that causes chicken pox (& the potential for the subsequent condition depicted here, shingles) IS technically a herpes virus. but the author of this headline knows that using the shorthand “herpes” conjures a very specific idea. https://t.co/DBZF7WIUwV
— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) April 20, 2021
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) April 20, 2021
This is not Herpes Simplex, the STI. Herpes Zoster is Shingles. Shingles can flare up with various stressors, which is likely what we're seeing here in patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
COVID VACCINES CANNOT GIVE YOU HERPES. FULL STOP. https://t.co/bWNItPyQDX
— Nicole Cibelli (@nicole_cibelli) April 20, 2021
Just incredibly irresponsible. The condition is herpes zoster, otherwise known as shingles. But congratulations on the clicks. https://t.co/XwgfJjKrHv
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) April 20, 2021
Many of the posters also believe that articles with misleading headlines like this, may create more excuses for people not to receive the vaccine or even allow for another push by Anti-Vax groups to convince others not to get vaccinated.
No, the vaccine isn't going to give you herpes. But the kind of person who insists they got herpes from the vaccine definitely will.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) April 20, 2021
You are fucking assholes for this @nypost. Repeat/Retweet you are not getting Herpes Simplex (10,11,12,7779311—anything) getting vaxed. Repeat VACCINES ARE NOT GIVING YOU HERPES.
— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) April 20, 2021
The tweet you're all amplifying about COVID vaccines causing herpes infections is fear-mongering bullshit. By "herpes," it means herpes zoster (better known as shingles), which lies dormant in the body of everyone who ever had chickenpox. Immune responses can trigger activation.
— Ted Berg (@OGTedBerg) April 20, 2021
Excuse me please stop spreading misinformation. If getting a vaccine triggers an outbreak of shingles, that's because of the virus already inside the person's body. The vaccine is not causing herpes infections. FFS, people.
— Shinyhunter Syntha 💜 Ghetsis 💜 (@syntharoboto) April 20, 2021
Their fears may be warranted. Issues with the J and J vaccine have renewed skepticism about the vaccination process in general allowing for the Anti-Vax movement to fill in the cracks. Anti-Vaxers have perpetuated a variety of misinformation campaigns regarding the Covid-19 vaccines, including a rumor that the vaccines will affect the fertility of its recipients.
The story raises newer questions about the role of journalists during difficult times like these. It is important for journalists to realize that they have power over the public and the public trusts journalists to make decisions for the betterment of the public. However, the public is not shy about responding back to journalists when they abuse that trust.