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Kent State University student Regan Raeth of Hudson, Ohio, looks at her vaccination bandage as she waits for 15 minutes after her shot in Kent, Ohio, on April 8, 2021. (AP/Long) Kent State University student Regan Raeth of Hudson, Ohio, looks at her vaccination bandage as she waits for 15 minutes after her shot in Kent, Ohio, on April 8, 2021. (AP/Long)

Kent State University student Regan Raeth of Hudson, Ohio, looks at her vaccination bandage as she waits for 15 minutes after her shot in Kent, Ohio, on April 8, 2021. (AP/Long)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher June 30, 2021

CDC says more young people hospitalized from vaccine than COVID-19 itself? False

If Your Time is short

  • The CDC categorically rejected the claim.
  • A blog post that the claim relies on misinterpreted a CDC statistic.

An Instagram post wrongly claimed that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more young people are hospitalized as a result of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine than from the disease itself.

The post features a screenshot of a headline on the conservative website The Gateway Pundit. The headline said:

"CDC officials admit more hospitalizations of young people from vaccine than from the actual COVID virus – Including HUGE number of heart problems reported."

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The CDC rejects the claim.

"CDC has not directly stated or indirectly implied that more young people are hospitalized from COVID-19 vaccination than from COVID-19 disease," said CDC spokesperson Martha Sharan. "That statement is factually inaccurate and is not representative of the safety data on COVID-19 vaccination."

Where the claim comes from

The Gateway Pundit cites a blog post by Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who has questioned the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and steps to prevent spread of the virus. 

Berenson claimed that CDC data and estimates show that for every 100,000 vaccines given to young people, "200 will be hospitalized," and "about 50 out of 100,000 adolescents have ever been hospitalized for Covid-related illness."

The CDC estimates that from March 1, 2020, to March 27, 2021, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for people aged 12 to 17 was about 50 per 100,000 population. That is in line with what Berenson stated.

Berenson’s reference to 200 hospitalizations out of 100,000 vaccines comes from CDC data presented June 23 that said 0.2% of people aged 12 to 15, and 0.2% of people aged 16 to 25 required medical care in a hospital or emergency room after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

However, those 0.2% findings are based on responses from people who completed an app-based questionnaire after vaccination, and cannot be extrapolated to the general population, said Matthew Laurens, a University of Maryland School of Medicine professor and pediatric infectious disease specialist. 

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"Those who experience side effects are more likely to submit post-vaccination surveys," Laurens said. 

If any serious health problems are reported, the CDC can investigate to try and determine whether they were caused by a vaccine.

Overall, hospitalizations in the U.S. for COVID-19 have declined since a peak in January 2021, when vaccines became more widely available.

Experts recommend vaccination

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that people ages 12 and up get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

As of June 28, the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System had received 780 reports of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) among people ages 30 and younger who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Officials have confirmed 518 cases and are investigating whether there is a relationship to COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC said that most patients who received care "responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better."

Reports submitted to the VAERS database about possible reactions to the vaccines come in unverified. The submissions do not necessarily represent a health problem caused by the vaccine.

Serious adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination may happen, but are rare, the CDC said.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed, "CDC officials admit more hospitalizations of young people from vaccine than from the actual COVID virus."

A CDC spokesperson said the agency has not stated or implied what the Instagram post claims.

The post relies on blog posts that misstate CDC statistics. 

We rate the post False.

RELATED: There’s no proof that COVID-19 vaccine has injured or killed more than 900 children

RELATED: Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation

Our Sources

Instagram, post, June 28, 2021

Gateway Pundit, "NOT MAKING HEADLINES: CDC Officials Admit More Hospitalizations of Young People from Vaccine than From the Actual COVID Virus – Including HUGE Number of Heart Problems Reported," June 26, 2021 

Alex Berenson, "Vaccines: Reasons for Concern," June 24, 2021 

Email, Matthew Laurens, University of Maryland School of Medicine professor and pediatric infectious disease specialist, June 29, 2021

PolitiFact, "There’s no proof that COVID-19 vaccine has injured or killed more than 900 children," May 26, 2021

PolitiFact, "The WHO did not reverse its position on kids and COVID-19 vaccines," June 24, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination," updated June 30, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "EtR Framework: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents aged 12-15 years," May 12, 2021 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Vaccine safety updates Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices," June 23, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID Data Tracker," accessed June 29, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Hospitalization of Adolescents Aged 12–17 Years with Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1, 2020–April 24, 2021," June 11, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens," updated May 27, 2021

Email, Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy, June 29, 2021

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CDC says more young people hospitalized from vaccine than COVID-19 itself? False

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