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Fact check: COVID-19 vaccination decreases chances of hospitalization, contrary to post’s implication

By: Kate S. Petersen

The claim: Post implies COVID-19 vaccine increases risk of ICU admittance

A graph featured in a Jan. 9 Instagram post (direct linkarchive link) appears to show a correlation between the number of vaccine doses a person has received and ICU admissions in Australia.

“In Australia, the more doses of vaccine you’re received, the more likely you are to end up in the ICU,” reads a caption above the graph. “Is this how vaccines normally work?”

The graph, which is shown via a screenshot of a Jan. 6 tweet, is labeled “NSW Australia COVID ICU Admissions – Nov/Dec 2022.” It features five categories: “Unvaccinated,” “1 Dose,” “2 Doses,” “3 Doses” and “4+ Doses.”

The “unvaccinated” category shows zero ICU admissions. For the remaining categories, more ICU admissions are recorded as the number of doses rises.

Other social media users interpreted the graph as showing a causal connection, including one who commented, “I am constantly hearing of people dying! Yet no one else seems to notice the connection.”

The post garnered more than 3,000 likes in two weeks.

Our rating: Missing context

The implied claim here is wrong. Vaccine efficacy cannot be determined by simply looking at the vaccine status of people admitted to the ICU in Australia, because most Australians have been vaccinated. Experts note that older and less healthy Australians are more likely to have more doses of the vaccine. Studies that account for these nuances show the COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce the chance of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

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