February 5, 2021

In a now-viral video, a Tennessee woman who says her name is Khalilah Mitchell said she developed Bell’s palsy, a disorder that causes paralysis on one side of the face, after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In the video, the woman says she is a registered nurse and advises others against receiving the vaccine. This claim turned out to be Not Legit. Here’s how we fact-checked it.

Start with a keyword search

Plugging in keywords like “Covid vaccine, nurse and Bell’s Palsy,” we found this article from The Associated Press. According to the article, the Tennessee Department of Health stated that there is no record in their health professional licensure system of a registered nurse with the name Khalilah Mitchell. On Facebook, she listed her last job as working in a Nashville bakery. The article goes on to say that The Associated Press attempted to reach out to the woman in the video, but didn’t get an answer.

While all signs point to the woman in the video not being a registered nurse, we should still look into the claim that the vaccine has been linked to Bell’s palsy.

The Associated Press addressed this too, reporting that four people in the Pfizer vaccine trial and three people in the Moderna trial who received vaccines reported Bell’s palsy. However,  experts have not established a link between the vaccine and the condition.

Why context matters

The Associated Press article linked to two separate Food and Drug Administration briefings, one for the Moderna trial, and one for the Pfizer trial. For the Moderna trial, 30,000 people participated, and three people who were vaccinated and one person in the placebo group developed Bell’s palsy.

For the Pfizer trial, 22,000 people received the trial vaccine and four people developed Bell’s palsy. However, while the FDA has stated that they recommend surveillance for cases of Bell’s palsy, they found that these numbers of cases are actually consistent with the general population.

Go to primary sources

When looking for information about the vaccine or COVID-19, it’s important to lean on primary sources, like the FDA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has a section dedicated to Bell’s palsy, and states that people who have had Bell’s palsy in the past are able to receive the vaccine since, again, the FDA did not find evidence that the vaccine causes the condition.

Rating

Several reputable fact-checking organizations have found that there is no nurse by the name of Khalilah Mitchell in Tennessee. On top of that, experts have not found a definitive correlation between Bell’s palsy and the COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, we’re going to have to rate this particular video as Not Legit.

MediaWise is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

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