Fact Check-Georgia schools’ cardiac arrest awareness form predates the COVID-19 pandemic

A “Student/Parent Cardiac Arrest Awareness Form” from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) was first issued in 2019 to educate parents about the risk of cardiac arrest in young athletes and in keeping with a state law enacted that year, a spokesperson for the organization told Reuters. The form’s origin “had nothing to do with COVID vaccines,” the spokesperson said.

Widely-shared social media posts feature a photo of the current year’s school form alongside comments suggesting that it was issued following a recent increase in cardiac deaths (here ) , (here), and (here).

However, the form can be traced back to a version revised in May 2019(here Cardiac Arrest Awareness Form.pdf)

“There is nothing new about this form,” a spokesperson for the GHSA told Reuters, noting that it was created along with rules for addressing concussions in athletes that are described on page 32 of the organization’s 2019-2020 bylaws (here).

Bylaw 2.68-b indicates that the policy is in accordance with Georgia’s SB 60, the Jeremy Nelson and Rick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. In addition to distributing an information sheet about sudden cardiac arrest to “every athlete and his/her parent/guardian,” the policy calls for twice-yearly informational sessions to be held.

“It had nothing to do with COVID vaccines since the law and the June 2019 publication of the above referenced GHSA by-law predates the development of any vaccines,” the GHSA spokesperson said in an email. “It was simply an effort to try to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in high school athletes and to alert the parents of the dangers.”

The claims implying a link to COVID vaccines went viral after the Jan. 25 publication of an American Heart Association press release and report showing that the annual pace of deaths in the U.S. from cardiovascular-related causes accelerated during the pandemic, representing the largest increase since 2015 (here) and (here).

The AHA attributes much of the rise in deaths to pandemic-related delays in health care and to damage done by COVID-19 infections.

“COVID-19 has both direct and indirect impacts on cardiovascular health,” the AHA president said in the release. “As we learned, the virus often attacks the body’s circulatory system, causing new clotting and inflammation. We also know that many people who had new or existing heart disease and stroke symptoms were reluctant to seek medical care, particularly in the early days of the pandemic. This resulted in people needing more acute or urgent treatment for what may have been manageable chronic conditions. And, sadly, appears to have cost many their lives.”


Misleading. The Georgia High School Association first issued its Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Form for student athletes and their parents in 2019, not in relation to cardiovascular deaths during the pandemic.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .