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In early March 2021, Snopes readers asked about various social media and internet posts claiming that the Ministry of Health in Israel said the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine had “killed 40 times more elderly” people than the COVID-19 coronavirus itself. Here’s an example of one such post circulating on Facebook, with the user’s name cropped out for privacy purposes:
The link included in this post and others like it leads to a now-deleted story that was posted to the anti-vaccine activist website Children’s Health Defense, founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of Robert F. Kennedy and an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist.
The Israeli Health Ministry did not say that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine kills a whopping 40 times more elderly people than the pandemic virus. On the contrary, on Jan. 27, 2021, the ministry released a report that stated most vaccine side effects were “mild and transient.” Some occurrences of more severe reactions have occurred, including allergic reactions, but no vaccine-recipient fatalities had been reported in Israel.
As of March 5, 2021, Israel had vaccinated more than half of its population with at least one dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. The country’s aggressive vaccination campaign has been effective, with Israeli data showing the vaccine had been nearly 99 percent effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19.