A group of doctors across Palm Beach County took part in a news conference early this week in a joint effort to encourage the community to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, some reports indicated the event was a walkout to protest or refusal to treat unvaccinated people.
Early Monday, Aug. 23, about 75 doctors joined the event in Palm Beach Gardens to urge the public to get vaccinated and wear masks, The Associated Press reported.
The news agency cited the participants revealing that the doctors did not walk off the job or refuse to treat patients as some other news outlets falsely claimed.
Early Monday morning, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” reported on the event with a misleading on-screen caption: “SOUTH FLORIDA DOCTORS WALK OUT IN PROTEST.”
Netizens and other media news outlets picked up the language—some criticized the doctors for allegedly withholding treatment.
A Twitter user used the caption, “REAKING REPORT: More Than 75 Doctors WALK OUT OF SOUTH FLORIDA HOSPITAL Rather Than Treat the Unvaccinated.”
Another news outlet ran the title, “Florida doctors stage walkout to protest surge of unvaccinated patients.”
MSNBC on Tuesday morning clarified that doctors did not walk away from their jobs. However, the false claims have led to threats and harassment toward the doctors’ colleagues and hospitals.
Neurologist Dr. Jennifer Buczyner, who organized the news conference, told the AP that she was frustrated at the fake news.
“This was a physician driven press conference to encourage our community to get vaccinated and talk about the impact this has had on our community,” Buczyner said.
The AP said it had reviewed the email sent to the doctors, inviting local medical staff to a “Community Get Vaccinated event” that would be covered by news media. The event’s purpose was to “encourage our community to get vaccinated and take this seriously.”
Florida has seen more than 21,000 new COVID-19 cases being added per day in mid-August.