THE FACTS: After Margaret Keenan, 90, and William Shakespeare, 81, became the first two people to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot outside a clinical trial, multiple false posts surfaced on social media suggesting that they were hired actors.
Britain was the first country to deliver the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the general public. At University Hospital Coventry, nurse May Parsons first administered the vaccine to Keenan, and then to Shakespeare. One Twitter post falsely claimed that an image of Keenan being vaccinated first appeared on CNN in October: “Excuse me, but how is the exact same person who’s the ‘first to get vaccinated’ today ... also in a CNN photo wearing the exact same clothes, in the exact same chair, and getting a shot back in October? Which one of these lying stories did you want us to pretend is true?”
The post had over 6,000 retweets. It post compares two screenshots. One shows a BBC story dated Dec. 8 featuring an image of Keenan receiving the vaccine. The second screenshot shows an Oct. 22 CNN article about COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
The CNN article includes an image from a video that shows Keenan receiving her shot. But, that is because, when viewing some articles on CNN.com, a video player automatically plays the latest news reports related to the topic. CNN readers who navigated to the October article last week were shown the recent video from the Dec. 8 vaccination on the same page.
Another post falsely claims that the nurse shown vaccinating Keenan and Shakespeare is not a real nurse because she was photographed in two different hospitals.
“Busy nurse today working in Coventry and Stratford Upon Avon at the same time,” read the post, which featured photos of Keenan and Shakespeare being vaccinated by the same woman. “Crisis actors. I’m really hoping people start to wake up because we are headed into a fight for our lives…” wrote one Facebook user who shared the post.
In reality, Parsons vaccinated Keenan and Shakespeare at University Hospital Coventry. It appears that social media users misconstrued news reports noting that the hospital is 20 miles away from Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of dramatist and poet William Shakespeare.