Posts revive the misleading claim that Pfizer staff got “special” COVID-19 vaccines

An allegedly leaked email from 2021 claims to show evidence that U.S. Pfizer employees received different COVID-19 vaccines than the general public. The email, which notes that the vaccine stock available to the staff was “separate and distinct,” is recirculating in English and Spanish.

Recommendation: These types of false claims attempt to undermine the public’s perception of COVID-19 vaccine safety and may promote distrust in vaccine manufacturers. This particular false claim is similar to one that circulated last year after a selectively edited clip was used to accuse Pfizer of having given its Australian employees a “special batch” of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. The clip ends before the Pfizer representative explains that the company took pains to ensure that its employees were not receiving special treatment by getting access to vaccines that had been purchased by the government to be distributed for free to the public. Conversations about vaccines given to Pfizer employees are unlikely to arise in a clinical setting, but social media posts expressing distrust in Pfizer may prompt patient questions about COVID-19 vaccine safety. Continuing to reiterate that COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and monitored and have been determined to be safe—as adverse effects are extremely rare—is recommended. The CDC recommends the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, death, and long COVID.