Fact Check: NO Evidence Family Said J&J Executive's Child 'Died Suddenly' After Getting A Vaccine

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: NO Evidence Family Said J&J Executive's Child 'Died Suddenly' After Getting A Vaccine No Record

Did the family of 10-year-old Kelsey Morand, who died in Princeton, New Jersey, in July 2023, confirm that her death happened after vaccination? No, that's not true: Publicly available reliable sources do not mention any vaccination records and do not describe vaccination as a contributing factor in the girl's demise. The family said that the cause of death was a seizure followed by a brain injury.

The claim reappeared in a tweet (archived here) on July 30, 2023. It opened:

The daughter of a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine executive 'died suddenly' earlier this month after being forced to take the jab that her father helped produce.

The tweet continued:

According to her family, 10-year-old girl Kelsey Corinne Morand suffered a fatal brain injury following a seizure on July 3 shortly after getting the vaccine.

This is what it looked like at the time of the writing of this fact check:

Screen Shot 2023-08-04 at 1.30.59 PM.png

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Fri Aug 4 17:30:59 2023 UTC)

The tweet contained the phrase "died suddenly" in quotation marks, creating the misleading impression that these were the exact words of Kelsey Morand's family.

Based on publicly available sources, however, the surviving parents did not use this precise wording in commenting online about their daughter's death. Moreover, the GoFundMe page set up after Morand's death doesn't mention any vaccines at all:

Our 10 year old daughter Kelsey Morand passed away unexpectedly on July 3rd, 2023. She suffered a brain injury brought on by a seizure and the result was too severe.

The same language was used in a news article about the fundraiser.

Morand's obituary did not contain what was attributed to her family in the tweet, either.

As of this writing, the parents' public account on Facebook did not show any posts from 2023 written for general audiences.

Lead Stories contacted the Morand family about the claim. If we receive a response, this story will be updated as appropriate.

Google News showed no credible news reports that would contain both the girl's name and the expression attributed to her relatives on social media.

Screen Shot 2023-08-04 at 1.38.43 PM.png

(Source: Google News screenshot taken on Fri Aug 4 17:38:43 2023 UTC)

A broader search for the same terms only shows duplicates of the claim. These duplicates do not provide details about when and where the Morand family supposedly made the remarks attributed to it in the claim.

The phrase "died suddenly" is associated with a conspiracy theory falsely linking unexpected deaths to COVID-19 vaccines. Such claims have been debunked by Lead Stories multiple times.

Medline Plus, a health information service of the National Library of Medicine, defines a seizure as:

the physical changes in behavior that occurs during an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Among possible causes, it mentions abnormal levels of sodium or glucose in the blood, brain infections, heart diseases and epilepsy. Medline also notes:

Sometimes, no cause can be found. This is called idiopathic seizures. They are usually seen in children and young adults, but can occur at any age.

Fever, also listed as one of the possible causes of a seizure, is also one of the side effects of various vaccines. However, the CDC website points out:

Mild reactions usually go away on their own within a few days. Serious, long-lasting side effects are extremely rare.

Fevers, in turn, may be linked to other factors, including flu.

Determining the exact cause of a seizure requires an in-depth medical inquiry that produces the corresponding medical records. But such records are typically strictly confidential and unavailable for unrestricted access on social media. The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics explicitly says:

Physicians must seek to protect patient privacy in all settings to the greatest extent possible.

Besides English, the claim about Kelsey Morand circulated in Lithuanian, Dutch, Japanese, Serbian and Russian, demonstrating signs of a coordinated campaign.

Among those who boosted it on Twitter was William Makis who previously spread a false statement about COVID vaccines.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about vaccines can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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