Anti-vaccine myths keep growing

We are reaching the stage in the US where people who have been vaccinated are being told that they pose little or no risk to themselves or others and can thus go about their daily activities without wearing masks. But it appears that the anti-vaxxers have also upped their game. Not being content with posing a health risk to others, they are now claiming that vaccinated people are a danger to them.

As reported by NBC News, the owner of a butcher shop in Ontario, Canada, banned all people who were vaccinated from COVID-19 to protect unvaccinated female customers.

“We have decided that since the majority of our customers are women and since women are most at risk for these side effects, we ask that if you’ve been vaccinated to please order for curbside pickup or delivery for 28 days after being vaccinated,” the post read on Instagram.

A separate store in Canada banned vaccinated customers for a fear of vaccinated people “shedding” the coronavirus to its unvaccinated customers. In the U.S., a private school in Miami barred vaccinated teachers from coming into contact with students. The same school threatened the employment of its vaccinated teachers.

How did this latest nonsense come about?

The conspiracy centers on one particular myth that people who are vaccinated can emit contagious particles of the coronavirus’s Spike protein and can infect others, a process referred to as “vaccine shedding.” Vaccine shedding is a very rare possibility with live-attenuated vaccines that use a diluted version of a disease to stimulate an immune response. In the rare case there’s enough germ to spread, the shedding usually happens via feces— for example, with the polio vaccine or the measles vaccine.

“For the measles vaccine, later in life — and again this is super rare — it’s possible that the live virus could revert to a condition called Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE),” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease doctor and professor of medicine at the University of California–San Francisco. “But in no way can you shed it and give it to someone.”

The problem is that good scientists are cautious and rarely make unequivocal statements or give 100% guarantees because they know that there is always an element of uncertainty and doubt. They want to give a complete picture but in their efforts that being careful and nuanced they tend to inadvertently feed the craziness. In the above statements by Gandhi, the anti-vaxxers will ignore the “very rare” and “rare” and “super rare” modifiers she uses and will act as if what she is talking about is likely and even inevitable.

And why are women supposed to be particularly susceptible to danger if they are around vaccinated people?

Despite the “vaccine shedding” myth being continuously debunked by credible sources, iterations of the claim are becoming increasingly popular. Peculiarly, these myths have a tinge of sexism, as many of them revolve around false claims about women’s bodies, mirroring other falsehoods about women that have existed for centuries. 

Specifically, there have been forms of the false claim that a vaccinated woman’s menstrual cycle can throw off an unvaccinated woman’s cycle, stoking fear and sowing divides between vaccinated and unvaccinated women. Naomi Wolf, a bestselling author who has been pushing conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 vaccines repeatedly, has tweeted about the claim a couple times.

Just like QAnoners saying that they seek to protect children from Satanic pedophilic rings occupying the highest echelons of society, saying you are protecting women enables the proponents of these theories to claim that they are acting out of noble motives and that those who disagree do not care about women and children.


  1. Bruce says

    And why is there no government office studying “cooties”?
    I remember at age 7 all the boys were afraid a girl would give them cooties if you talked to one. Of course, that was in the 1960s.

  2. says

    It might be a fun surrealism exercise to try to come up with absurdist anti-vax theories. Like, if you get the vaccine it will give you brain damage and you may wind up believing in Qanon.

  3. prl says

    Even the far Antipodes have not been spared this nonsense: Health authority ‘disheartened’ as hairdresser bans COVID-vaccinated clients

    A hairdresser in south-west Victoria [Australia] has come under fire from a local health authority for saying she won’t accept customers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
    Melinda Thackeray, who owns Melinda Diva’s Hair & Tanning Salon near Colac, a town that endured one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus in regional Victoria last year, made the announcement on Facebook.

    [my emphasis]

  4. Matt G says

    Cooties were still a major concern in the eighties as well. I don’t know if there has been a concerted effort to address this scourge.

  5. jrkrideau says

    Just looked at tho Ontario vaccination stats. As of 2021-05-28 10:30 8,690,473 doses administered and 624,920 people fully vaccinated. Ontario has a population of roughly 14.6 million. The butcher is in Vaughan which, IIRC, is in a priority vaccination area. We may have one butcher with no customers in no time. Pity, eh?

  6. jrkrideau says

    @ 2 Marcus Ranum
    It might be a fun surrealism exercise to try to come up with absurdist anti-vax theories.

    Probably impossible to come up with anything the antivaxers have not advanced in all seriousness. Those guys are seriously crazy and dangerous. However, I am not sure that Jair Bolsanaro was serious when he claimed the vaccine would turn you into an alligator.

  7. Katydid says

    25 years ago, I worked for a year in Holland and made lifelong email friends with two of my Dutch coworkers who had kids about the same age as mine. A decade ago, these friends discovered Facebook and fell headfirst into it. Just recently, we swapped emails and I learned the whole family had COVID, but they refuse to believe it’s real (how can this be?). They also refuse to take a vaccine in the future because all of the different vaccines are made up of nothing but ground-up fetus parts and they are Christians.

    I don’t even recognize these people anymore.

  8. Ridana says

    So how would they know if you’ve been vaccinated? Will they require blood tests for antibodies? That ought to go over really well with the anti-vax, anti-mask, muh freedums! crowd.

  9. says

    I wonder how these people intend to check to make sure that no vaccinated customers enter their premises. Are they going to break into my home and ransack the whole place searching for a small piece of cardboard, which states that I have gotten a Pfizer jab?

    I can only assume that the real goal of these public statements is to spread negative attitudes towards vaccines, because there is no way how to actually enforce such policy.

  10. Jazzlet says

    Personally I wouldn’t want to buy meat from a shop that barred the vaccinated, who knows what other science they have rejected? There are people who reject germ theory, is this butcher one of those?

  11. Katydid says

    @Andreas; in the USA, there are now walk-in clinics where someone could walk in with a fake id card and get a vaccination. The USA still doesn’t have a centralized medical record system. I’ve heard anecdotally that people who were vaccinated under their own name at someplace like a community walk-in clinic or a drive-through mass vaccination site had to later inform their health insurance company that they were, indeed, vaccinated. On the other hand, various people have been arrested for selling small blank cards that resemble CDC records for people to forge at home. If I were any other country, I wouldn’t trust any American that said they were vaccinated.

  12. lanir says

    Jab people to find out if they’ve been vaccinated? Look at an official vaccination record? Don’t be ridiculous. These things stand at least some chance of reaching a correct answer.

    They’ll use a dowsing rod of course.

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