Viral ‘Vaccine Bandits’ TikTok warning is fake — but people fell for it

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Apparently, the main symptom of being an anti-vaxxer is no sense of humor.

In case you thought anti-vaccine hysteria wasn’t on the rise, a TikTok comic released a video parody claiming that Californians are being injected with a coronavirus vaccine against their will — and scores of people apparently believed it.

The coronaviral clip currently boasts more than 6 million views on the app.

“I don’t ever try to assert my videos as fact,” US filmmaker Gray Fagan — who goes by @graysworld on TikTok — told the Daily Dot of the “intentionally ridiculous” clip.

In the spoof, uploaded Tuesday, Fagan shows an alleged news article with the inflammatory headline ” ‘Vaccine Bandits’ take over Los Angeles Streets.” Later on, the footage cuts to a purported surveillance video of a man in black forcing a woman to take a COVID-19 jab in broad daylight.

“So apparently what these guys do is they walk up to you on the street, and they ask if you’re vaccinated — and if you hesitate at all, they inject you with a vaccine right on the spot,” the videographer says while straining to keep a straight face. “And then they, like, throw a vaccine card at you after they inject you, and it says, like ‘Hollywood Boulevard’ or wherever you got injected, and they even leave it blank, so you can fill in your name.”

The faux doomsayer — whose TikTok profile reads “welcome to ~scripted~ chaos” — concludes the BS-A by insisting that the “vaccine bandits” even leave letters at the homes of the unwilling shot recipients, telling them that they’ll find them two weeks later when it’s time for their follow-up jab.

“Why is no one else talking about this?” Fagan questions, before inquiring if any commenters are aware of this “next level” phenomenon.

The TikTok troll has since confirmed that the outlandish video is fake.

“Each individual video is purposely designed to ‘look’ and ‘feel’ real, all the while growing progressively more and more outlandish, which therein lies the joke,” explains Fagan.

He adds that “if the viewer fails to do any further inspection from there, it’s on them.”

And when users click on the “vaccine bandits” article that appears on Fagan’s TikTok links page, they get redirected to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video on YouTube — otherwise known as a “Rickroll.”

Despite Fagan’s admission — not to mention the overtly ridiculous clip — scores of internet conspiracists swallowed the not-so-deep-fake warning hook, line and sinker.

“Do people actually think this okay,” said one gullible commenter. “Sooooo illegal.”

“I’m provaccine but this is actually terrifying. Violent and violating,” wrote another in a comment with more than 40,000 likes.

One bandit believer called the drive-by shot-tings “dangerous,” as the patients could have medication allergies or a fear of needles.

“This is funny and so scary at the same time,” gasped one bozo. “I hope it’s actually the vaccine and not something else.”

The hysteria then metastasized to Twitter, with one impressionable user writing that “apparently in LA there’s a group called ‘VACCINE BANDITS’ and they’re running around asking people if they’re vaccinated and if they say no they vaccinate them on the spot against their will and throw a card at them too even say see you in two weeks.”

The clip might give viewers a good chuckle. However, their gullibility is perhaps also troubling given that anti-vaccine views — seemingly once on par with flat-Earthers and Bigfoot believers — have become more mainstream during the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent months, the COVID inoculation has been denounced by celebrities from rock star Eric Clapton to late shock jock Dick Farrel, the latter only changing his stance after getting being hospitalized with the disease, which he later died from.

Meanwhile, just last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attempted to impose a law prohibiting cruise ships — which were major hotbeds of coronavirus contagion early in the pandemic — from requiring passengers to provide proof of vaccination. However, he was overruled by US District Judge Kathleen Williams, who granted the cruise line’s request for a preliminary injunction.

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