‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies
Results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine.
A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji. A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call her a “murderer” for having her child vaccinated.
In reality, the Ohio kindergartner had experienced lifelong health problems since her premature birth, including epilepsy, asthma and frequent hospitalizations with respiratory viruses. “The doctors haven’t given us any information other than it was due to all of her chronic conditions. … There was never a thought that it could be from the vaccine,” Day-Weaver said of her daughter’s death.
But those facts didn’t matter online, where Anastasia was swiftly added to a growing list of hundreds of children, teens, athletes and celebrities whose unexpected deaths and injuries have been incorrectly blamed on COVID-19 shots. Using the hashtag #diedsuddenly, online conspiracy theorists have flooded social media with news reports, obituaries and GoFundMe pages in recent months, leaving grieving families to wrestle with the lies.
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