There has been a lot of vaccine misinformation circulating the web, including the false claim that there is a tracking chip inside the COVID-19 vaccine. While there is a radio-frequency identification chip on the outside of some syringes, it’s there to track the vaccine doses, not people.
We came across a video on YouTube from 700 Club Interactive, which is part of the Christian Broadcasting Network. In the video, health reporter Lorie Johnson interviews Jay Walker, the executive chairman of ApiJect. ApiJect was awarded a multimillion dollar contract with the Department of Defense to increase U.S. production of medical injection devices.
Despite Walker detailing how the optional RFID chip works in the video, the YouTube video’s title and description both suggest that the microchip is placed inside the vaccine itself. Here are the media literacy skills we used to fact-check it.
Read past the headline
Whenever you read news online, you never want to read just the headline. A headline can never give you all the context that you’d get from reading the entire article. The same rule applies for YouTube titles. Similar to headlines, sometimes the title might be misleading or lacking context.
Watching the video, it’s clear that the microchip is not inside the vaccine. Instead, Walker explains that the chip acts as a “bar code,” and is used to help public health officials keep track of where and when the doses have been used.
Despite this, several commenters brought up the chip — writing things like, “Putting a chip in a human body is a bad idea.” Another person commented that once the chip is in you, it allows you to be tracked (this is also false).
Try a keyword search
Whenever you see something you’re not sure about, take the time to do a keyword search. Searching with words like “RFID chip coronavirus vaccine,” brought up several fact checks on this subject, including an article from Reuters.
According to the article, unfortunately, there have been a bunch of false claims circulating the web stating that the vaccine will inject people with tracking microchips. But according to their reporting, the optional microchip will in no way be injected into anyone who gets the vaccine. Nor does it divulge patients’ personal information.
See what multiple sources are reporting
As a general media literacy tip, it’s always a good idea to read multiple articles to make sure you have full context. USA Today, BBC and PolitiFact have all reported the same thing — that the syringes can include an optional RFID chip on the label, similar to a barcode — but the chip is not inside the injected dose itself. The articles also report that patients who receive the vaccine cannot be tracked.
Lean on primary, expert sources
Another thing you could do when you’re not sure if a vaccine claim is true or not is to check out primary sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Food and Drug Administration. These are great resources, and are regularly updated with vaccine data.
Needs Context. While the actual video from 700 Club Interactive never states that a chip is inside the vaccine, the title and description are both misleading, and would definitely benefit from more information.