Flu shots aren’t causing false positive COVID-19 tests

Medical experts say the flu vaccine isn’t causing false positives for people who take COVID-19 tests.

May 22, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking

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A recent Facebook post is fanning the flames of a conspiracy theory that officials are overstating the number of COVID-19 cases.

“I had a phone appointment with my Dr this afternoon, and I asked the question about testing,” it says. “He said, ‘If you have had a flu shot in the last 3-5 years, you will probably test positive. Coronavirus antibodies have been in the vaccines since H1N1.’ This would account for all of ‘tested positive (with no symptoms) results.”

PolitiFact reached out to medical experts about the post.

Davidson Hamer, a global health and medicine professor at Boston University as well as a faculty member of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, called it “nonsense.”

“Coronaviruses have a completely different antigenic (surface protein and glycoprotein structure) from influenza viruses,” he told PolitiFact in an email. “They both cause similar syndromes but they are distinct classes of viruses and there is no evidence that I am aware of that would lead to cross reactions between immune responses to the two vaccines.”

Click here to read the full fact-check.

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Post claims flu shots are causing false positive COVID-19 tests

Medical experts say the flu vaccine isn’t causing false positives for people who take COVID-19 tests. Read the fact-check»

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.