The claim: A video shows a man running away from people trying to give him the COVID-19 vaccine
Social media users are sharing a recycled video of people in hazmat suits chasing a man to falsely claim vaccinations are being physically forced upon people against their wishes.
Text above the video reads, “2020: The vaccine is totally optional… 2021:...”
The Sept. 17 Facebook post garnered more than 24,000 views by Oct. 7. Many viewers understood the video as a joke, while others expressed that they were taking it more seriously. Several viewers commented asking where the scene took place and what happened.
But the video was actually already online by late February 2020 and long before COVID-19 vaccines were available.
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USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user for comment.
The video predates the pandemic
The video has been spreading online since as early as late February 2020.
The intersection seen in the video is in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which didn’t report its first COVID-19 case until March 4.
It wasn’t until Dec. 14 , 2020, that the U.S. began its vaccination rollout with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and clearance from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.
The video shows the intersection of Morris Avenue, Union Street and Route 28 in Elizabeth. Google Maps Street View of this location matches the roads and buildings in the video.
Additionally, there is a visible flag on a lamppost for Kean University, a public New Jersey university located just outside Elizabeth.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video shows a man running away from people trying to give him the COVID-19 vaccine. The video shows an intersection in Elizabeth, New Jersey, at least a week before the first COVID-19 case was reported in the state. The video has been spreading online in different forms since as early as February 2020, months prior to the vaccine becoming available in the U.S.
Our fact-check sources:
ViralLads, Feb. 27, 2020, Facebook video
NorthJersey.com, March 10, 2020, Coronavirus in New Jersey: A timeline of events from first cases to the first vaccination
Google Maps Street View, accessed Oct. 6, 296 Morris Ave, Elizabeth, NJ
Kean University, accessed Oct. 6
Reuters, March 11, 2020, False claim: Video shows Italian coronavirus patient being chased after escaping from hospital
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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Video doesn't show man escaping forced vaccination