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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 11, 2021

No, the COVID-19 vaccines won’t make colds and flus extremely lethal

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  • Experts say this claim is unfounded. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines help your body avoid illness while creating an immune response to the virus. They don’t make colds and flus more lethal.

Influenza can sometimes cause death but the COVID-19 vaccine will not make the flu and colds more lethal, as an unfounded message spreading on social media says. 

"The vaxx is designed to work in conjunction with the common cold," the post says. "The vaxx didn’t get mass deployed until cold/flu season was ending for a reason. It will make the common cold/flu extremely lethal so next cold season is when it begins, at which point it will be called a COVID variant, and labeled COVID-21. This time real people will die of it, appearing to die of cold-like symptoms, it won’t be a scamdemic but an artificially created real one."

This 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.)

Experts told us the post’s claim is wrong. 

"There is no basis to that statement," said Dr. Brent Stockwell, a biological sciences professor at Columbia University. "COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine do not make the common cold or flu any more severe than normal. These diseases are caused by unrelated viruses."

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Dr. Richard Watanabe, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, agreed: "The whole premise of the post is wrong." 

First, he said, none of the COVID-19 vaccines are designed to "work in conjunction with the common cold." 

The vaccines just work in conjunction with your immune system, he said. They’re designed to help your body create antibodies against the virus without causing illness.

The vaccines can cause side effects, but the claim that they will make flus and colds more deadly is baseless. 

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, May 9, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza (flu), visited May 11, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19: How vaccines work, updated March 9, 2021

Interview with Brent Stockwell, biological sciences professor, Columbia University, May 10, 2021

Interview with Richard Watanabe, preventive medicine and physiology and neuroscience professor, University of Southern California, May 10, 2021


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No, the COVID-19 vaccines won’t make colds and flus extremely lethal

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