Fact-check: The flu vaccine is not an untested COVID-19 vaccine

A post shared over 6,600 times on Facebook claims the children’s influenza vaccine is actually an untested COVID-19 vaccine. This is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The lengthy post here purportedly describing a conversation with a pediatrician reads:

“COVID PARENT WARNING ALERT. I had to take my son to the doctor for (SIC) a ear ache this morning ... when we were done this was my conversation with the Pediatrician, NO JOKE! Doctor : would you like the kids to get the flu shot. Me: (I was curious) what strain of the flu is. Doctor: Covid but a very low strain of it. Me: No thanks. Doctor: they are really pushing us to push parents to get the flu shots for kids. Me: I’m not a fan of what’s going on in the world and I’m not giving my children a untested Covid flu shot. Doctor: I am sure if you and I sat and talked we would have similar beliefs on what’s going on. Me: then why are you pushing a vaccine that’s not tested or Barely tested. Doctor: Because they tell us to. Me: who tells you?. Doctor: CDC. Wake UP and for all the is Holy DO NOT GIVE your children a Covid vaccine!!”

The post misleadingly states COVID-19 is a “strain of the flu”. This is false. Reuters previously debunked this claim here

While COVID-19 and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, the flu is caused by influenza viruses. SARS-CoV-2 is a coronavirus, not an influenza virus. ( here )

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains here that as the flu viruses are changing constantly, the composition of the flu vaccine is reviewed annually and updated accordingly to match the influenza viruses that are circulating each year.

For the 2020-2021 season, the recommended influenza viruses for the flu vaccine are visible here and here ( )

None of the flu vaccines approved for children or adults by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ( here ) contain SARS-CoV-2 or any strain of coronavirus (page 18 here , page 9 here , page 8 here , page 17 here , page 9 here , page 11 here , page 16 here , page 14 here , page 7 here , page 21 here ).

Reuters previously debunked the claim that the flu shot contains COVID-19 here . Vaccines include parts of a virus or bacteria to trigger an immune response from the body ( here ) . Given that the flu and the coronavirus are entirely different families of diseases, there would be no scientific reason for even an inactivated pathogen of SARS-CoV-2 to be present in an influenza vaccine.

The post also makes the unfounded claim that the flu vaccine is untested.

All vaccines in the U.S. are regulated by the FDA. To ensure their safety to the public, vaccines undergo an exhaustive process of examination before receiving the FDA approval ( here ).

As noted by the New York Health Department here , the time range for development and testing of flu vaccines is shorter in comparison to other vaccines, as the manufacturing process remains “unchanged” on an annual basis except for the strains of influenza that need to be added.

Before a new version of the FDA-approved flu vaccine can be distributed, licensed manufacturers must submit an application for FDA review and approval. ( here ).

According to the FDA here , all approved vaccines require “high-tech processes and manufacturing facilities that have been inspected by the FDA”.

More information on how flu vaccines are made is visible here

See more Reuters checks on misinformation around the flu vaccine here , here and here .


False. Flu vaccines are tested and do not contain SARS-CoV-2 or any strain of coronavirus

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .