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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek May 21, 2021

No, getting a COVID-19 vaccine won’t expose you to high amounts of electromagnetic radiation

If Your Time is short

• All human bodies emit some level of radiation.

• Experts say there’s no way that a COVID-19 vaccine could impact the amount of radiation a person gives off.

• Even after decades of research, there is no evidence that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields impacts a person’s health.

Electromagnetic field detectors have long been associated with tracking and hunting ghosts — and now social media users claim to have found another use for these devices.

"EMF reader on a v site" reads the title of a video posted on Facebook, referring to the site of someone’s vaccine injection.

The video starts with a woman pointing a hand-held device labeled "electromagnetic radiation tester" at her own arm.

"This is my arm," she says, focusing the camera on the device’s readout screen, which shows "E-field: 0 V/m," meaning volts per meter. Below that, the screen on the device reads, "safe." In the video comments, the woman writes that she is not vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Next, she points the tester at a Bluetooth speaker and the device beeps, a red light blinks and the screen shows an "E-field" between 53 and 58. The screen also switches to "harmful," instead of safe. The electromagnetic radiation tester has a similar response to being pointed at a charging port, with readings over 200.

Finally, the narrator turns the device to another person who indicates he received a COVID-19 vaccine at a designated spot on his arm.

When she points the tester at his arm, the device begins beeping, and the red light flashes. The screen shows an "E-field:" between 116 and 134 — which the device classified as "harmful."

The 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.)

Despite what the video implies, experts say there’s no way that a COVID-19 vaccine could contribute to the creation of an electromagnetic field that would set off an EMF detector. Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, said there is "absolutely nothing in the vaccines that could do this."

Dr. Stuart Ray, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases within the Johns Hopkins University Department of Medicine, explained that "all things emit EMF — because EMF is any radiation and everything radiates energy unless it’s at absolute zero." (He is referring to the temperature absolute zero, or -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.) 

With this in mind, Ray said it is possible that a human body could emit some sort of radiation — and experts confirm that all things, including human bodies, emit radiation

"But there is nothing at all in a vaccine that we would expect to change the amount of radiation that somebody gives off," Ray said. 

He also specified that the COVID-19 vaccines would not impact the amount of someone’s radiation.

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"There’s nothing that sets them apart in this way because the (COVID-19) vaccines use the person’s own biological machinery to generate an immune response, and that same machinery is running all the time," Ray said. "The process that is triggered is a usual process that is triggered for the immune system and involves no particular radiation."

Upon watching the video, Ray said, "You can get anything to happen on a video." 

Based on his background with physics, he said: "I’m confident that what they’re doing is somehow misleading," because the COVID-19 vaccines would not cause the readings on video.

What do we know about electromagnetic fields?

PolitiFact found the electromagnetic radiation tester that appears to be used in the video. It is advertised as capable of detecting electric fields in volts per meter and magnetic fields in microteslas.

In the video, the electromagnetic radiation tester is registering only small electric fields. No magnetic fields are detected.

People are exposed to a variety of "weak" magnetic and electric fields every day because of "the generation and transmission" of electric appliances and telecommunications equipment, according to the World Health Organization

The WHO says magnetic and electric fields influence the body — but only a limited amount. 

"Both electric and magnetic fields induce voltages and currents in the body but even directly beneath a high voltage transmission line, the induced currents are very small compared to thresholds for producing shock and other electrical effects," the WHO explains

In addition, the organization says, "Tiny electrical currents exist in the human body due to the chemical reactions that occur as part of the normal bodily functions, even in the absence of external electric fields." 

Overall, the WHO concludes that more than 30 years of research have not revealed evidence "of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields."

Iowa State University summarized the issue in this fact sheet: "Some measurable biological effects from exposure to very high levels of EMF can be detected. There is no scientific evidence that exposure to normal levels of EMFs has any health effect." 

Our ruling

A Facebook video attempts to show that putting an electromagnetic radiation detector near someone’s COVID-19 vaccination site shows that those who are vaccinated give off high amounts of electromagnetic radiation. 

All human bodies give off some level of radiation, but experts say that the video is misleading because there is nothing in the COVID-19 vaccines that could impact the amount of radiation a person gives off. 

What’s more, there is also no evidence that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields puts someone’s health at risk.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Facebook video, May 17, 2021

The Atlantic, "The Broken Technology of Ghost Hunting," Nov. 14, 2016 

NPR, "Paranormal Technology: Gadgets For Ghost-Tracking," Oct. 31, 2011

Email exchange with Dr. Gregory Poland, head of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, May 20, 2021

Interview with Dr. Stuart Ray, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases within the Johns Hopkins University Department of Medicine and vice-chair of Medicine for Data Integrity and Analytics, May 21, 2021

Iowa State University of Science and Technology, "Electromagnetic Fields Fact Sheet," accessed May 21, 2021

World Health Organization, "Radiation: Electromagnetic fields," Aug. 4, 2016

National Cancer Institute, "Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer," accessed May 21, 2021

Alibaba.com, "Electromagnetic Radiation Tester Portable Digital LCD Electric Magnetic Field EMF Meter Dosimeter Detector For Computer Phone," accessed May 21, 2021

Hong Kong Observatory, "Radiation emitted by Human Body - Thermal Radiation," Sept. 2010

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Do humans emit radiation?" accessed May 21, 2021

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No, getting a COVID-19 vaccine won’t expose you to high amounts of electromagnetic radiation

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