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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy September 28, 2021

Canadian officials say there’s no evidence 13-year-old had heart attacks after COVID-19 vaccine

If Your Time is short

  • A woman claimed in a viral video that the COVID-19 vaccine caused her daughter’s 13-year-old friend to suffer repeated heart attacks and be hospitalized in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

  • Nova Scotia Public Health said no such incident had been reported as of Sept. 28 to the agency, Nova Scotia’s emergency health services or its pediatric hospital. The province’s chief medical officer of health previously said the video told “a false story.”

  • Facebook removed the original video for violating its COVID-19 and vaccine policies, and the user deactivated their account on Sept. 24.

Canadian public health officials quickly debunked a viral video that claimed a COVID-19 vaccine sent a 13-year-old girl from Nova Scotia to the hospital with sudden heart problems. But copies of the video continue to spread on Instagram and other platforms.

"My daughter just contacted me from school, very upset that one of her friends is now in critical care in the hospital here in Halifax because her heart stopped right after she had a vaccine," the woman in the five-minute video said. "She's not well right now. She can't breathe. Her heart keeps stopping. She’s 13 years old, 13 years old, and her heart stopped."

An Instagram post shared the video of a woman claiming her daughter's 13-year-old friend was hospitalized from a COVID-19 vaccine.

The original video was removed from Facebook for violating the platform’s COVID-19 and vaccine policies, and the user who posted it deactivated their account on Sept. 24. Versions of the video were also removed from YouTube for violating the company’s community guidelines. 

But the same clip also cropped up Sept. 24 on Instagram, where it racked up thousands more views and 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.) 

Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 in May.

The woman in the video did not provide any evidence to support her description of events. She went on to make other false and misleading assertions, including that people are "dying all over the world from this vaccine" because "death is a symptom." Those claims are not true.

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"The video is false," said Dr. Joanne Langley, a professor of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Langley pointed to a Sept. 24 report from the CBC, a broadcast network. 

When the CBC asked about the original video, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said that the claims in it amounted to harmful misinformation.

Strang said that no such report about a 13-year-old girl was ever made to the paramedics with Nova Scotia’s Emergency Health Services, known as EHS, or to the IWK Health Centre, the province’s pediatric hospital in Halifax.

"If something like that had happened, certainly there would have been a call to EHS, likely transportation of that age to the IWK," Strang said. "Neither EHS or IWK are aware of any reports like that. And some other information would lead us to believe that this is a false story. It’s unfortunate that people are doing this, but there’s nothing at all to suggest that this is an event that actually occurred … where is the evidence that this actually happened?"

PolitiFact reached out to Nova Scotia Public Health to see if anything had changed in the days after Strang addressed the claims made in the video.

"We are aware of this video," said Marla McInnis, a spokesperson for the province’s department of health and wellness. "To date, there has been no report to Public Health, EHS or IWK about this incident. Misinformation like this can be very harmful and is very concerning to all of us."

Because there is no evidence to support the video’s claim, we rate it False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, Sept. 24, 2021

CBC, "N.S. top doc says anti-vaxx video claiming girl's heart stopped after vaccine is false," Sept. 24, 2021

Saltwire, "Public health says false claims in Facebook post 'harmful,'" Sept. 24, 2021

Email statement from Facebook, Sept. 28, 2021

Email interview with Marla McInnis, media relations adviser for the Province of Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness, Sept. 28, 2021

Email correspondence with Dr. Joanne Langley, professor of pediatrics and community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, Sept. 28, 2021

Email correspondence with Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada, Sept. 28, 2021

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Canadian officials say there’s no evidence 13-year-old had heart attacks after COVID-19 vaccine

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