Online trolls have reached a new low with their latest targeted campaign of cyberbullying. In recent weeks, pregnant people have become a new target for the faceless mob of anti-vaxxers, thanks to the rise in popularity of posting “vaccine selfies” in the wake of the public availability of the new COVID-19 vaccination shot. But, as with anything on the internet, things quickly turned sour.
Pregnant women have become the latest targets of online trolling, with many of them seeing their joyous vaccination posts turned cruelly into platforms for name calling and abuse. These attacks have been even harder for women who have shared their stories of pregnancy loss, because commenters are falsely correlating the two unrelated events.
Dr. Michelle Rockwell experienced the cruel attention of internet trolls last week when she discovered that her story of pregnancy loss was being used as a cautionary tale against getting the vaccine while pregnant, as the Daily Beast reported. Images lifted from her popular Instagram account were used to spread vicious lies about how the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Rockwell received had caused her November miscarriage.
“Dec. 21 she got it,” the post said. “Jan. 24th, she lost her baby.”
Rockwell quickly took to her Instagram account to address the misinformation. “First. This is bullshit. If anyone actually went to my IG and scrolled through my posts they would see I miscarried 3 weeks before receiving the vaccine,” she wrote alongside an image that called out the misinformation surrounding her loss. “I had my D&C 2 days after the vaccine but my sweet baby was gone long before that.” We can’t imagine having to deal with the heartbreak of a pregnancy loss and then seeing that same loss manipulated to bully a pregnant woman. “Second, how soulless and predatory of someone to take someone’s heartbreak and modify it to further their own agenda.”
Unfortunately, Rockwell wasn’t the only one targeted in this way. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all been full of threads spreading false information about the impacts of the vaccine on pregnancy, specifically targeting women who receive the shots and painting them as the reason behind their pregnancy losses. The Instagram account cv19vaccinereactions (which somehow has over 100,000 followers) shared a screenshot from a Twitter post that seemed to link a recent vaccination and miscarriage together, by sharing the date of the injection, the date of the loss, and a VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) number.
On Twitter, Doctor Candice Cody posted about receiving her vaccination at 35 weeks pregnant, saying how happy she was to be able to get the first dose while she was pregnant and hoped that it would pass some of the antibodies onto her baby. “Grateful to be part of ending the pandemic,” she wrote.
Got my #CovidVaccine today at 35 wks pregnant. Will pass antibodies to baby. Grateful to be part of ending the pandemic. To those waiting: have patience. ❤️ To those who are unsure: read primary sources, ask, & don’t give into fear. @JPCodyMD @VHC_Hospital pic.twitter.com/IOFoYLseDp
— Candice Cody, MD (@CandiceCodyMD) December 17, 2020
The comments section of the post is full of baseless claims about the safety of the vaccine and what receiving it while pregnant said about Cody. @aspiringlockpic chastised Cody for getting a “rushed” vaccine. “It must be magical. Good luck. You need it,” they wrote. User @joelNicholas19 simply wrote, “fucking pycho.” These types of responses are exactly why so many medical professionals are taking to social media to share their stories, so that the public can see that those with medical training and education believe in both the safety and efficacy.
And, speaking of the efficacy. There are still questions surrounding the safety of receiving the vaccination while pregnant or breastfeeding since none of the safety trials have involved pregnant women. However, experts agree that the dangers of catching COVID-19 while pregnant pose a far greater risk, especially to those who are front-line workers, than any expected side effects. Which is why so many mothers with medical training are lining up for the shot, and perhaps why most of the dissent you hear is coming from the bowels of social media.
These famous moms have opened up about pregnancy loss.