Fact check: Residents of Madrid care home have not died due to flu vaccination

Social media users have been sharing a post which falsely claims that nearly 100 residents of a care home in the Spanish capital died after getting a flu vaccine.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

One post making the uncorroborated claim in one post has been shared 3,500 times (here) and the same claim can be seen repeated here , here , here and here .

The post says 97 of the 120 elderly people in a care home in Madrid died in the past 20 days. It adds: “And this has happened shortly after giving them the flu vaccine in September.”

The flu vaccination programme in Spain started only in October (here). The health minister announced that the programme was commencing earlier this year than in previous years in an attempt to avoid a strain on health services due to the coronavirus. (here) and (here) .

Reuters could not find any report by local authorities, government or police to corroborate the claim about the care home deaths. The claim was described as a hoax by the Spanish fact-checkers (here) .

The post also says: “The number of deaths comes from old people's homes. Polysorbate 80 is doing its “job”,” making reference to a common food additive that is also used in vaccines in much smaller quantity (here) .

Polysorbate 80 is found in several vaccines, including those for influenza, Hepatitis B, HPV, and meningococcus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (here) .

An expert group at the European Medicines Agency described exposure of the substance via vaccination as “very low” (here) .

The Vaccine Knowledge Project, a resource managed by an academic research group at the University of Oxford, says that flu vaccines have an excellent safety record. “They are the best protection we have against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths each year among at-risk groups” it says ( .


False. There is no evidence that a Madrid care home saw 97 deaths in September. The flu vaccination programme only began in October, and the flu vaccine has a strong safety record.

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