No, the COVID-19 Vaccine Won't Make a Magnet Stick to Your Arm

The viral TikTok vaccine magnet trick is just an illusion. The shot is not magnetic.

In 2021, people on TikTok used the hashtag #covidvaccinemagnet to share photos and videos of magnets seemingly sticking to their COVID-19 vaccine injection sites. Like other unusual rumors about the vaccine, the claim is not true. The COVID-19 vaccine is not magnetic and will not cause a magnet to stick to your arm.

Despite the ruse, by July 2021, the hashtag #covidvaccinemagnet had about 4.5 million views on TikTok, with users doing some variation of the same thing. While many videos purported to show a magnet sticking to a human, many others also debunked the claim.

Anesthesiologist Magnolia Printz, MD (@balancedanesthsia) shared a video of herself attempting to stick a series of Magformer magnetic toys to the arm where she received her Pfizer vaccine. (Spoiler alert: They all fell to the ground.)

Another doc, Jess Andrade, DO (@doctorjess), shared her own video attempting the challenge. "This vaccine magnet thing is CAP," she wrote. (Hint: that means it's not true.)

What Do Doctors Have To Say About This?

They're not impressed. "This is stupid. This is completely made up," infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Health. "There is no new magnetic capacity conferred by being vaccinated."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically addressed the magnetic vaccine rumor on its website under "Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines," writing, "receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination, which is usually your arm."

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection, the CDC explained. The CDC added that all COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals like iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys, as well as any manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, and nanowire semiconductors.

The CDC also included this: "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."

You can also check out the full list of vaccine ingredients to verify if you want to learn more.

Why Does the Magnet Stick To Some People?

It's possible that a magnet (and many other objects) could potentially stick to the oils on your skin or even to sweat, Jamie Alan, PhD, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, told Health. "People can balance spoons on their nose, so it's not surprising people can balance magnets on their arms," she said.

Another thing to keep in mind: Many people are using coins to "prove" this, but they're missing a huge piece of information: US coins aren't ferromagnetic (aka strongly attracted to a magnet)—that is, except for one specific steel cent made in 1943, according to the American Chemical Society. Though coins are partially made of nickel (which is ferromagnetic), there are not enough in US coins to work that way.

It's also possible that there's a little TikTok trickery going on here. "I guess if you dipped a magnet in honey or slime and then stuck it to your arm, it will probably stick," Dr. Adalja said.

Keep in mind, too, that you're probably willingly putting metal into your body on a regular basis, and it's not turning you into a human magnet. One popular source? Multivitamins, which often contain iron. "The vitamins are so diluted and spread out through your body that they don't cause a magnetic effect," Alan said. And, if you wear any kind of piercing like earrings, you're also placing metal into your body that doesn't make you magnetic, she points out.

The verdict? This is a myth. Full stop.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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