Last Updated on May 7, 2021
PolitiFact botched an attempted fact check of a National File article reporting that a 15-year-old boy in Colorado reportedly died of a heart attack only two days after receiving the controversial Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine despite having no previous medical conditions or medical history of severe allergic reactions.
In its fact check, in which PolitiFact writer Tom Kertscher misspells the name of Colorado Department of Public Health Director of Communications Jessica Bralish, PolitiFact acknowledges “Jesscia [sic] Bralish, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the CDC ‘has confirmed that they are investigating this report,’ but that she couldn’t provide more information.” This, combined with the fact that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is hosted by the CDC but open to the public, suggests to PolitiFact that the death did not occur. PolitiFact then brazenly disregards facts presented by the official Colorado COVID-19 resource website by declaring that, “The CDC said in a statement that there are no circumstances under which a 15-year-old would have been eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.”
On the official Colorado COVID-19 resource website, in its frequently asked questions category, the state acknowledges that none of the controversial COVID-19 vaccines are currently available to teenagers younger than 16. However, the website also acknowledges that, “children as young as 12 years old have been enrolled in vaccine studies.” National File asked PolitiFact whether they knew this before publishing their article and did not receive a response.
In fact, the same Colorado media outlet quoted by PolitiFact – Fox 31 – acknowledges that the Pfizer vaccine is being tested on children and teens aged between 12 and 15, and quotes a Colorado doctor who claims the efficacy of the vaccine in this age group represents a “game changer.” Fox 31 quotes “Dr. Reginald Washington, the chief medical officer at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver” as saying “I think it’s welcome news,” and ” none of the vaccinated children came down with COVID, and the immune response was very robust, meaning they had a very high number of antibodies.” National File asked PolitiFact if they were aware of this before publishing their fact check and did not receive a response.
It is unclear where the testing of the controversial vaccine on children aged 12 to 15 took place, or if any of those children experienced severe adverse reactions. However, the Children’s Hospital Colorado is currently allowing parents with children aged 5 to 11 to enroll in a vaccine trial, and ostensibly made the same opportunity available to those children aged 12 to 16 prior. National File asked PolitiFact if they conducted this research before publishing their fact check and did not receive a response.
Borrowing the language of PolitiFact, National File’s verdict is that PolitiFact failed to do additional research to fact check a statement made by the CDC, and thus demonstrated that their fact check fails to include necessary and relevant information and cannot be trusted at face value. We rate it false.