US not requiring Covid-19 shots for veterans to receive benefits
An online article claims US President Joe Biden ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to withhold health benefits from former members of the military who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19. But the department says the claim is untrue, and the article appears on a website that states its content is "made up."
"Biden Orders VA To Withhold Health Benefits From Unvaccinated Veterans," says the headline of an article on DelawareOhioNews.com.
"Beginning November 1, any veteran seeking medical care at a VA facility must have had at least one shot of the vaccine to receive services under their medical benefits package" as "part of an aggressive new initiative to combat the Covid-19 pandemic," the article says.
The article -- which spread as a screenshot on Facebook here and here and Instagram here -- has drawn angry comments from people who appeared to take it as fact.
"Now this is out of control. FU Biden these Soldiers have rights," one Facebook user wrote.
Biden has mandated vaccination or weekly testing for federal employees, and the Pentagon aims to require troops to receive the shots. But the claim that unvaccinated veterans will be denied benefits is false.
“The president has not and will not withhold benefits to veterans who choose not to be vaccinated. The spread of this misinformation is extremely detrimental to our veterans and their families and should cease immediately," Terrence Hayes, the VA's press secretary, said in a statement sent to AFP.
A disclaimer appears in fine print under a lengthy comments section at the bottom of the DelawareOhioNews.com article, saying that "everything on this website is made up. Do not rely on anything said here."
The website also includes a page titled "Legal Statements" that says: "All stories herein are parodies (satire, fiction, fake, not real) of people and/or actual events. All names are made up (unless used in a parody of public figures) and any similarity is purely coincidental."
AFP Fact Check has debunked other inaccurate claims related to Covid-19 here.