We were already concerned about anti-vaxxers — now we have to add anti-vax grifters to our list of worries?
Guess we shouldn’t be surprised, but as the Delta variant causes another COVID surge, we find ourselves with less and less patience for the stubbornly unvaccinated. Which is why this particular influencer’s vaccine fear mongering story is really grinding our gears.
Dominique De Silva has raised over $18k of her $50k goal for her GoFundMe page (HERE), which is listed as “Help Dominique recover from the Covid-19 vaccine” — and unfortunately, she doesn’t mean the temporary flu-like symptoms some people have experienced after getting their shot. Instead, Dominique claimed to have developed “adverse effects” because of the vaccine; specifically, a mysterious neurological disorder that no doctor has yet to identify.
In an Instagram post (below), she shared videos of herself rocking back and forth and walking shakily, describing “come and go” symptoms including “Difficulty walking and weakness within the legs…Vertigo, Heart palpitations, Lack of sensation throughout the body” as well as “24/7” symptoms of “Short term memory loss, Trouble forming sentences, Feeling out of body, Depth perception is off, Visual Changes, Severe brain fog.”
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On her GoFundMe page, Dominique claimed that the symptoms set in two weeks after getting her first Pfizer shot. But certain followers grew suspicious that she was faking her condition, or at least lying about the timeline. Revisiting a ‘gram of her frolicking in a park back in May, users commented:
“You just exposed yourself. You said the neurological thing was linked to the vaccine you took in March yet this is in May and you’re fine. Karma is coming for you.”
“Funny you took the Jab right before you moved and look at you more than 4 weeks running around fine.”
“Look at you bouncing around just fine here. I feel like you just got the attention you so desperately seek obviously”
Dominique did admit to having “underlying autoimmune issues,” but Hashimotos, the thyroid disease listed in her IG bio, is not known to have any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. And setting aside any accusations of faking this condition, it doesn’t appear that Dominique has offered any solid evidence that her issues are directly related to the vaccine beyond this vague timeline. Could it be possible her health issues are in no way connected to the coronavirus OR the vaccine at all?
Either way, it’s a pretty major red flag for her to be spreading misinformation like this — AND trying to raise money off of it. And if it is a total scam, what then? A GoFundMe spokesperson told TooFab:
“I can confirm that our Trust & Safety team is investigating and has reached out for more information. If any donor would like to request a refund in the meantime, we will process it for them.”
“Fundraisers raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform. Over the last several years, we have removed over 250 fundraisers attempting to promote misinformation related to vaccines. It’s important to know that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means funds are guaranteed to go to the right place or donors will get a refund.”
The fact that people can request a refund is all well and good — but the page is still currently up, and most of the donors appear to allegedly be other anti-vaxxers commenting things like:
“Mandates for vaccines are against our own health and freedoms and these are not proven to work or FDA approved and they can not tell us these are safe.”
Of course, the Pfizer vaccine — which is what Dominique got — actually was FDA approved just this week. Moreover, the current spike in cases is largely due to the unvaccinated. According to a recent report from the New York Times:
“Over the past week, about 1,000 Americans per day have died of Covid; vaccination would probably have saved more than 95 percent of them.”
So yeah, the vaccine continues to be a HUGE factor in improving ALL of our quality of life. By all means, do your own research into how safe the vaccines are (TLDR: they are very safe), but don’t take the word of one random influencer who hasn’t provided any actual evidence connecting her health struggles to the vaccine.
And definitely think twice before giving them money.
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