March 2, 2022

After the loss of actors Betty White and Bob Saget, many social media users began spreading the baseless claim that both of these deaths were actually caused by the COVID-19 vaccines. This viral TikTok, showing a short clip of Saget stating he received his third dose of the vaccine, suggests that the booster shot was to blame. Here’s how we fact-checked it.

Look for red flags

Taking a closer look at the TikTok, there are a few things that stand out. For one, the clip is incredibly short. You want to be careful when you see really short snippets of interviews going viral online because they could be missing a lot of context. The text added by the TikTok creator also says this happened “in what looks like December,” so they don’t provide any specifics about when or where this clip is from. Finally, the caption gives zero evidence that the booster shot was the cause of death. Instead, it just says “he was healthy, just like Betty.”

Try a keyword search

Using the phrase “Bob Saget Cause of Death” along with the words “covid vaccine booster fact check,” brought up several results. According to CNN and The New York Times, Saget’s family released a statement saying he died from a head injury. Their statement read, “Authorities have determined that Bob passed from head trauma. They have concluded that he accidentally hit the back of his head on something, thought nothing of it and went to sleep. No drugs or alcohol were involved.” 

So no, Bob Saget did not die because of the booster shot. What about Betty White? 

Watch out for fabricated quotes

One viral Facebook post claimed that White received her vaccine three days before her death, and attributed this quote to her, “Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today.” Fact-checking quotes is extremely easy. Plugging in the exact phrase into Google brought up several articles that debunked it. According to Snopes, PolitiFact and USA Today, the quote isn’t real. 

In reality, multiple outlets reported that White died in her sleep after suffering a stroke six days earlier. In a statement to People, White’s friend and agent Jeff Witjas said, “Betty passed in her sleep peacefully without pain. To me this is the most important thing and brings me comfort as her dear friend. Anything else is private to Betty.”

Tips for reading breaking news

It’s not uncommon for misinformation to spread following the news of a celebrity death. To keep yourself from accidentally sharing misinformation, here are five tips for reading breaking news:

  1. Wait it out. It’s best to hold off on sharing until multiple reliable sources are all reporting the same.
  2. Check your emotions. Misinformation plays on your emotions. If you see a claim that makes you have an intense emotional reaction, that could be a sign it’s missing context.
  3. Check your sources. Make sure this news is coming from outlets with responsible reporting practices. If you see a claim on a gossipy Instagram account, it could just be a rumor.
  4. Stay respectful. It’s easy to forget that celebrities are also real people. 
  5. Make sure it isn’t satire. Unfortunately, there have been many cases where someone claims a celebrity has died as a joke. Before you reshare, again, confirm the source. 


Not Legit. With no evidence to support the claim that Bob Saget died due to his booster shot, and multiple, credible sources all confirming that Betty White died due to natural causes, we’ll rate the claims that attribute both of their deaths to the COVID-19 vaccine as Not Legit.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.

More News

Back to News