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New Zealand's former prime minister Jacinda Ardern did get the Covid vaccine. Ignore false claims on social media

IN SHORT: Social media posts claim that Jacinda Ardern did not take the coronavirus vaccine and that she is one of many politicians and “elites” who were exempt from getting the shot. But these claims are false.

A post doing the rounds on social media claims that Jacinda Ardern did not “take the vaccine”, referring to the Covid-19 vaccine.

“WEF Dictator Jacinda Ardern did not take the ‘vaccine’ that killed her own Citizens. Instead, she fled the Country…and sits on the Board of the Death Star…Blackrock…the Financial Arm of the World Economic Forum,” reads one post with over three million views on X (formerly Twitter).

Ardern is a politician and former leader of the New Zealand Labour Party. New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

Ardern became the country’s prime minister in 2017 and resigned in January 2023. She works with the Earthshot Prize, an international prize set up to “spotlight environmental innovators and their solutions”. 

She had previously worked with the World Economic Forum, or WEF, an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world, but she did not work for the WEF, as the post claimed.

The post includes a photo of Ardern and text that reads: “11,000 politicians and elites received an exemption for the Covid vaccination: this is shocking.”

The same claim can be found on X here, here, here, here, here and here, and on Facebook here, here, here, here, here and here.

Africa Check has debunked several false claims about the WEF and the coronavirus vaccines, topics which have become the centre of many strange conspiracy theories.

But did Ardern avoid getting vaccinated against Covid, and was she one of the “11,000 politicians and elites” who “received an exemption for the covid vaccination”? We checked.


Ardern received Pfizer jab in June 2021

There is ample evidence that Ardern received the Pfizer shot on 18 June 2021.

In a video of Ardern getting vaccinated against Covid-19, she can be heard saying: “It's really true when they say it's actually pretty pain-free.”

Another person can be heard asking “and you did have it three months ahead of your age band, why is that?”.

To which Ardern replied:

For me, I never wanted to be amongst the first. For me, we needed to get those front line workers but I also need to be a role model and demonstrate that it's safe, that it's effective and that it's really important that everyone is vaccinated when they have their opportunity.

After being vaccinated, she went on camera to talk about why it was important for everyone to be vaccinated. 

There is also no evidence that she “fled the country”, as claimed by the social media posts. Such news would have made international headlines. 

After her resignation it was reported that she would be a fellow at Harvard University in the US in the second half of 2023. Ardern said on Instagram about the news: “While I’ll be gone for a semester … I’ll be coming back at the end of the fellowships. After all, New Zealand is home!”

11,000 health workers exempt, not politicians or elites

After investigating the text in the image attached to the posts that “11,000 politicians and elites received an exemption for the Covid vaccination”, we came across an official letter from Te Whatu Ora-Health New Zealand.

Te Whatu Ora-Health New Zealand is the country’s public health agency.

The letter said that from 13 November 2021 to 26 September 2022, there were 478 applications for a significant service disruption (SSD) exemption

In New Zealand, the SSD allowed an employer to request that an employee be exempt from vaccination if it was necessary to prevent significant disruption to services.

According to the letter, 103 applications for this exemption were granted, covering some 11,005 workers during this period. Te Whatu Ora said these workers were in "health-related work".

The 11,000 people who were exempted from the coronavirus vaccine were not politicians or elites, but health workers, and only for a limited time period.

Anti-vaxx claims on social media

Long-standing anti-vaccination claims are in abundance on social media, but the coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death

Although the emergency phase of the Covid pandemic is over, it is still important for people to be vaccinated to protect themselves and reduce the likelihood of contracting new variants.

Coronavirus disinformation can cause readers to decide against vaccination generally. So pause before sharing social media posts and take the time to check and verify the facts. This can help you avoid being misled, or misleading others.

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