Biden

Social media posts falsely suggested that a supposed order from President Joe Biden would keep veterans who receive assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs from accessing health care benefits unless they received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1. But, the worries proved to be unfounded, as no such directive or executive order exists. ​​

CLAIM: President Joe Biden has ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs to withhold health care benefits from unvaccinated veterans.

THE FACTS: Social media posts falsely suggested that a supposed order from Biden would keep veterans who receive assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs from accessing health care benefits unless they received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1. But, the worries proved to be unfounded, as no such directive or executive order exists. ​​

In a statement to The Associated Press, the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed that the claims were untrue.

“The President has not and will not withhold benefits to Veterans who choose not to be vaccinated,” Veterans Affairs Press Secretary Terrence L. Hayes wrote in a statement. “The spread of this misinformation is extremely detrimental to our Veterans and their families and should cease immediately.”

The claims were spread through an article on a website that describes its stories as “parodies, satire, fiction, fake, not real.” The blog includes a disclaimer explaining that “everything on this website is made up” and warning readers not to “rely on anything said here.” But, many social media users who shared the story seemed to think it was a real news report.

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from Iowa, was among those who tweeted a link to the satirical article, writing in her tweet: “If true, this is insane!”

While Biden did issue an executive order Sept. 9 introducing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans in an effort to curb the surging COVID-19 delta variant, that order makes no specific mention of veterans and does not extend to their government health care benefits or to people who receive assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover medical expenses. The rules apply to private sector employees, health care workers and federal contractors.

The order mandates that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced in July that all its health care personnel who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit those facilities or provide direct care to those the VA serves, would need to get vaccinated. But, that rule does not extend to nonemployees who might use the department’s services.