The plot for the movie “I Am Legend” goes like this: After scientists genetically re-engineered the measles virus to cure cancer, the virus becomes lethal, infecting 99% of the world’s population. Those who didn’t die from the virus turned into vampire-like creatures. Will Smith plays a virologist who finds a cure.
The film has become part of the COVID-19 conversation since an Aug. 6 article from The New York Times about a company’s struggle to get its employees vaccinated. One employee said she was “concerned because she thought a vaccine has caused the characters in the film ‘I Am Legend’ to turn into zombies.”
Claims about the film in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic have been spreading for months. One Facebook post with 17,000 shares claims the film was set in 2021, and that “people turned into zombies because of the wrong vaccines.”
A meme circulating across social media also says: “it wasn’t the sickness that caused the zombie apocalypse. It was the ‘CURE’ for the sickness that bought [sic] on the zombies. So yea. Don’t go rushing to get vaccinated when they claim to have found the solution.”
Can the COVID-19 vaccine turn you into a zombie or a vampire?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine, or any vaccine currently available for that matter, will not turn anyone into a zombie or a vampire.
WHAT WE FOUND
Turning into a zombie or vampire is not on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of vaccine side-effects. And no one has reported dying and coming back to life in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
One of the ‘I Am Legend’ screenwriters, Akiva Goldsman, took to Twitter to shut down any connection to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made it up. It’s. Not. Real,” Goldman wrote.
Dr. Payal Kohli, with the University of Anschutz medical campus, said “there is zero scientific evidence that the vaccine is going to turn you into a zombie.”
“Now when you get the vaccine, you activate the immune system. So you can have some systemic effects like feeling tired for a day or so, feeling muscle aches or pains, feeling listless or lack of energy, but it's sort of like getting the flu,” she said. “It's the same sort of feeling. It's just temporary. It's just for a few hours. While your immune system is activated, there's no lingering effects on your brain activity.”
Kohli said there is also no vaccine that will wipe out humankind, and that includes the COVID-19 vaccine.