There’s been a lot of concern from Americans around the COVID-19 vaccine and what it can do to the human body, but one of the wildest and most implausible theories came from an Ohio-registered doctor and nurse appearing at a hearing on June 9 at their state capitol. The theory? That the COVID-19 vaccine turns you into a magnet.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that a House bill hearing on HB 248, the “Enact Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act,” brought two different people before a microphone to share testimony about how COVID-19 vaccines magnetize the body.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized,” said Dr. Sherri Tenpenny. “You can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. You can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.”
Tenpenny, the author of Saying No to Vaccines, was questioned by Democratic state Rep. Beth Liston, a physician who has a Ph.D. in public health—as the Dispatch noted, Liston solicited some of her more extreme positions.
“We are hearing testimony on a bill that will lead to outbreaks of disease and our invited ‘vaccine experts’ include a known conspiracy theorist talking about magnets and cell towers along with her followers,” Liston said. “The only benefit of this testimony is that it exposes who exactly supports HB248: individuals with absurd, uninformed, and dangerous beliefs.”
Liston may have been including registered nurse Joanna Overholt in that—she gave testimony supporting (or at least attempting to support) the magnet theory, which included her placing a key and a hairpin against her chest and neck.
“Explain to me why the key sticks to me. It sticks to my neck too. So, yeah, if somebody could explain this, that would be great,” she said as the key did not do what she said it was doing, securing her place in social media annals to the delight of many on Twitter.
Overton’s not the only one demoing alleged magnetization of their bodies, though. Health reported that TikTokers have shared content of themselves with magnets stuck on their bodies after they said they got the COVID vaccine. As of June 9, the hashtag #covidvaccinemagnet garnered about 4.5 million views on TikTok.
“Luckily,” that article observed. “some of the people posting those videos are trying to debunk the ‘challenge.’”
The preponderence of videos, however, seems to have led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a June 9 bulletin noting, “Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm.”
It went on to explain, “COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys, as well as any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, and nanowire semiconductors. In addition, the typical dose for a COVID-19 vaccine is less than a milliliter, which is not enough to allow magnets to be attracted to your vaccination site even if the vaccine was filled with a magnetic metal.”
At least one doctor co-signed the CDC statement forcefully; Health quoted infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, remarking, “This is stupid. This is completely made up. There is no new magnetic capacity conferred by being vaccinated.”
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