Not Real News

Actress Betty White poses for a portrait following her appearance on the television talk show "In the House," in Burbank, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming White told a news outlet she received a COVID-19 vaccine booster on Dec. 28, 2021 three days before her death. 

CLAIM: Betty White told a news outlet she received a COVID-19 vaccine booster on Dec. 28, three days before her death, saying: “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today.”

THE FACTS: The quote is fabricated. White did not receive a booster that day, her agent confirmed to The Associated Press. The news article cited by social media users does not contain the bogus quote or anything about vaccines. Days after Betty White’s death at the age of 99 was confirmed on Dec. 31, social media users falsely claimed “The Golden Girls” star had received a COVID-19 vaccine booster on Dec. 28, using a bogus quote to suggest her death may have been related.

Posters on Twitter and Facebook shared an image containing a quote reading, “‘Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today.’ - Betty White, Dec. 28th, 2021,” alongside a link to an article in Minnesota news outlet Crow River Media, titled, “Betty White: I’m lucky to still be in good health.” One post on Twitter shared the fabricated quote with a caption that reads, “Died 3 days later! Coincidence.”

But the article does not include that quote, and archived versions of the story stored by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine also do not mention COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Crow River Media ran an editorial addressing the falsehood in the Hutchinson Leader and Litchfield Independent Review, which they publish.” The story itself is about a Dec. 28 article in People that included quotes from White given “a few weeks” before she passed away.

The People article also does not mention boosters. White’s agent, Jeff Witjas, confirmed to the AP that the quote attributed to White is entirely false. “Betty never said this,” Witjas said in an email. Witjas also confirmed that White did not receive a booster on Dec. 28, though he did not comment on whether she received one at all. Witjas said she died peacefully in her sleep of “natural causes."

— Associated Press writer Karena Phan in Sacramento, California, contributed this report.