No, COVID-19 reinfections are not increasing as more people get vaccinated

No, COVID-19 reinfections are not increasing as more people get vaccinated

What was claimed

The verdict

The higher the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations, the higher the rate of reinfections.

False. There is no correlation between COVID-19 vaccinations and reinfections, say infectious disease experts.

By Olivia Thomson

Facebook users are spreading a meme which states COVID-19 reinfection rates are rising as more people are vaccinated, incorrectly implying that the vaccine causes reinfections.

“The more covid 💉the worse the reinfection rate seems to be. Is that what you see?” says one post. 

Another says: “The more shots, the sicker the people get because of lower immune systems. The more injections, the more infections and transmissions.”

Infectious disease experts consulted by RMIT FactLab stressed there was no evidence of a correlation between the vaccination rate and the reinfection rate. 

Infectious disease physician Paul Griffin, an associate professor at the University of Queensland, told RMIT FactLab the claim was inaccurate. 

Asked whether there was a correlation between Australia’s vaccination rate and the reinfection rate, Professor Griffin said, “No.” 

“None of the vaccines used in Australia contain any of the virus at all, so there is absolutely zero chance of getting COVID-19 from the vaccine,” he said.

Epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett, of the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University, also dismissed the claim, saying: “[There is] no basis to this bizarre link being made.” 

She said the COVID-19 booster is the only booster that “reduces risk of reinfection, even though it only lasts a couple of months”.

“We know without [the COVID-19 booster] people may be reinfected within a month,” she said.

The misleading meme was posted by an account that has previously posted anti-mandate and anti-vaccination content that has been fact checked by a number of fact-checking outlets here, here, here and here.

The meme misinterprets how vaccinations work. 

Dr Griffin told RMIT FactLab “there's no reduction in the immune system by being vaccinated”. 

“The intent of vaccination is to train or prime the immune system to be able to respond more quickly and more effectively against the virus without the risk of having the disease itself. 

“[The reinfection rate is] largely driven by the new [Omicron] subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 that are not only more infectious, but evade protection from past infection and to a degree from vaccination,” Professor Griffin said.

Australia’s National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) website says for someone to contract COVID-19, “a live virus that can multiply in your body has to infect you” and no vaccine supplied anywhere in the world “contains live SARS-CoV-2 virus”.

As of July 27, more than 95% of Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated and Australia has an estimated 377,251 active cases, with 46,442 of those cases being acquired within the previous 24 hours.


The verdict

False. There is no correlation between COVID-19 vaccinations and reinfections, according to infectious diseases experts. Vaccinations can reduce the severity of the disease, hospitalisations and deaths. Reinfections are caused by variants of the coronavirus.

29 July 2022


aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.