Fact Check

No, COVID Booster Didn't Paralyze Gavin Newsom's Face

A manipulated video added to false rumors about the California governor.

Published Nov. 11, 2021

Los Angeles, CA - November 10:Gov. Gavin Newsom takes questions during a press conference on COVID-19 vaccination and housing for homeless veterans at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom experienced partial facial paralysis from a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot.

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In early November 2021, social media users and media outlets speculated about the whereabouts of California Gov. Gavin Newsom after an alleged absence from public events.

Rumors started when Newsom abruptly canceled a trip to Scotland for a United Nations climate conference, citing "family obligations," then didn't hold any scheduled public events for about two weeks.

Newsom later explained that he canceled the trip to be with his children on Halloween, after a grueling year, including a pandemic and a failed recall election seeking to unseat him. He also stated he had been out and about with his family and working at the Capitol during that time.

The rumor that Newsom was "missing" had various iterations, but one prominent version was that he experienced a serious adverse reaction to getting a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot in late October 2021.

"Gavin Newsom is out of sight since getting his booster because he developed Bell’s Palsy or Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)," one Twitter post stated, referring to conditions that can result in partial facial paralysis.

Some social media posts spreading this rumor included a doctored video that was manipulated to look like the left side of Newsom's face was drooping:

The original video can be found on Newsom's Twitter page and shows no facial paralysis:

The Daily Mail cited unnamed "sources in the family's inner circle" to make a less extreme claim: Newsom had experienced "muscle weakness and fatigue" after getting both a Moderna COVID-19 booster shot and the flu shot. Side effects for the COVID-19 vaccines can include tiredness and muscle pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But Newsom's spokesman, Daniel Lopez, told the Daily Mail the opposite. He is quoted as saying, "The flu shot and booster shot were administered separately, and the Governor did not have an adverse reaction to either shot."

In sum, there's no evidence that Newsom experienced any side effects after receiving the COVID-19 booster shot.


Boswell, Josh. “California Governor Gavin Newsom Attends Ivy Getty’s Wedding.” Mail Online, 10 Nov. 2021, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10182895/California-Governor-Gavin-Newsom-makes-appearance-Ivy-Gettys-wedding.html.

Luna, Taryn and Phil Willon. “Gov. Newsom Returns to Public Eye after Sudden Absence Sparked Social Media Speculation.” Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-09/newsom-sudden-pause-on-public-events-sparks-social-media-speculation.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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