C/O Jorge Franganillo, Unsplash

Anti-vaccine misinformation on social media has costed many the ultimate price

Cw: death, COVID-19 

In the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has become divided. In a time when some trusted the words of the medical community, others also displayed signs of skepticism.  

From wearing masks to following restrictions, it seemed as if not everyone agrees with the mandates. Slowly, our communities started to branch out and go against one another.  

“Anti-vaxxers” and “COVID-deniers” went head to head with those who support immunization and the use of masks. However, this was far from a friendly debate as misinformation put forth generated irreversible consequences for our society.   

Many individuals who denied COVID-19 as a whole and deemed the virus as government propaganda used social media to voice their opinion. In the beginning, I observed that most of these posts seemed rather harmless in the format of humorous memes. 

“Anti-vaxxers” and “COVID-deniers” went head to head with those who support immunization and the use of masks. However, this was far from a friendly debate as misinformation put forth generated irreversible consequences for our society.

KIMIA TAHAEI, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

Alas, these seemingly harmless posts rapidly escalated into widespread misinformation. 

Some started suggesting that the prediction models are fake, the test kits are contaminated and the media is exaggerating the virus as there is no pandemic. Others started suggesting how the vaccine will alter their DNA and stated how this is not a risk they will take.  

There were even “factual checklists suggesting the vaccine has not been tested on animals but is tainted with aborted human and monkey cells. Unfortunately, as the title of this article suggests, such mass amounts of misinformation came with a fatal price.  

The prominent subreddit, r/HermanCainAward has been exclusively following the stories of individuals who did not trust the science and passed away as a direct result of COVID-19. This online discussion forum was inspired after the passing of Hermain Cain, a former presidential candidate for the Republican Party.  

The prominent subreddit, r/HermanCainAward has been exclusively following the stories of individuals who did not trust the science and passed away as a direct result of COVID-19. This online discussion forum was inspired after the passing of Hermain Cain, a former presidential candidate for the Republican Party.  

KIMIA TAHAEI, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

He was against masking mandates from the beginning of the pandemic and was seen maskless in large Trump rallies. Unsurprisingly, he soon contracted COVID-19, was admitted to the hospital and died after two days.  

Influenced by Herman Cain’s story, the member of the forum decided to share stories similar to Cain’s in order to exhibit the dangers of misinformation.  

One of the most recent awardees of the “Herman Cain Award” was Czech folk singer, Hana Horka. An unfortunate victim of misinformation, Horka passed away after deliberately getting infected with COVID-19.  

Horka was told she couldn’t perform unless she showed proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID-19. Sadly, because of misinformation and downplaying the repercussions of COVID-19, she chose the latter and passed away shortly.  

“I know exactly who influenced her. It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family,” Horka’s son, who shared pro-vaccine views, stated

Members of the Herman Cain Award subreddit are begging users to get vaccinated in order to prevent stories like Horka’s. And while many have taken offence to this community, labelling them as unempathetic and callous, I believe they have done more good than bad.  

Although many posts harshly judge unvaccinated individuals, the community has motivated a lot of people to receive the vaccine. The community sincerely wishes and hopes this subreddit is deleted as soon as possible with no more unfortunate stories to share.  

For the most accurate information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines, students and community members should refer to the federal government website on COVID-19 here.  

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