In April 2021, social media users shared a screenshot that purportedly came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The picture, which resembled a PowerPoint slide, read: “FACT: Refusing to take the vaccine is a form of racism since it harms people of color.”
When making a PERSONAL HEALTH DECISION doesn’t mean a damn thing to your government!
THIS IS PROPAGANDA AND UNLESS EVERYONE STARTS SPEAKING UP THINGS WILL GET DRASTICALLY WORSE!! FORCED VACCINATIONS? Then what will they force upon you!@CDC GFY pic.twitter.com/sRczv13OFA
— TXIndepndnt1836(C) (@TXIndep1836) April 22, 2021
We found multiple instances of the image being shared on Twitter:
Please for the love of God, tell me this is a fake and doctored.
The racist propaganda meter just blew all fuses. pic.twitter.com/DW10qmLp1C
— Charlie DiLorenzo (@C__DiLorenzo) April 22, 2021
It was also reposted to the iFunny website.
While the slide may have resembled part an official presentation, we found no record of the CDC ever saying that “refusing to take the vaccine is a form of racism.”
The slide in question appeared to have been created as a joke or an attempt at trolling. It followed a genuine announcement from the CDC about vaccines and race.
On April 8, the CDC published a report with the headline: “CDC’s Efforts to Address Racism as a Fundamental Driver of Health Disparities.”
As the nation’s preeminent public health agency, CDC has a pivotal role: to lead our nation in addressing racism and the resulting health inequities. We will do what we do best by using science to investigate and better understand the intersection of racism and health, and then to take action.
Together with our public health partners, we are working to reduce, and ultimately, eliminate racial and ethnic inequities in health by addressing the structural and social conditions that give rise to them. We are committed to also working further upstream to address racism as the fundamental driver of these inequities.
The page also mentioned vaccines, noting that the “CDC awarded $3 billion to support local efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake.”
A separate report from April 6 said that “75% of the total funding must focus on specific programs and initiatives intended to increase vaccine access, acceptance, and uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities.”
It’s unclear if the picture in question originated from Facebook, Twitter, an online troll forum such as 4chan, or another channel. However, what is crystal clear is that nowhere did the CDC say that refusing to take the vaccine is “a form of racism.”