Rumours that an unvaccinated Northland man died because he took the Pfizer jab were so fervent his father had to address the lies in a eulogy at his son's funeral.
Whangārei's Liam Ranby had only recently turned 21 when he died from a brain aneurysm and cardiac arrest on October 8 this year.
His mother, Tania Ranby, has spoken out to preserve her son's memory as the "talented musician" and "loving soul" he was – and not the sham poster boy for vaccine-related deaths.
"People have been messaging me telling me that I'm lying, that it's my duty to tell the public the truth," she said.
"I'm not vaccinated, I'm pro-choice. I've heard both sides and it upsets me, people pushing the vaccine onto others. But it makes me sick that people are using my son to push their ideas through."
"His dad, even at the funeral, mentioned how the 'keyboard warriors' could stop talking about the vaccine and Liam."
Ranby said the truth is Liam was unvaccinated.
The last conversation she had with her son – two hours before he collapsed at the gym – was about the Covid vaccine.
"He didn't want to get vaccinated and he wanted my opinion. My advice was to take his time with the decision, don't feel pushed into it, and do what's right for him."
People – many of whom were strangers – messaged Ranby via text or social media about Liam's "vaccine-related death" while her son was alive in hospital on life support.
"I understand that people are scared and fearful, and they want to know the truth if this was the Covid shot.
"But believe me, if it was I wouldn't be lying back saying it wasn't. I would be getting out there kicking up a huge stink," she said.
As the volume of messages swelled, Ranby started to phone those people to set the record straight.
But the intensity of the rumour remained and even made her second-guess herself.
She triple-checked with the authorities as well as requested Liam's medical notes and all his paperwork.
"In some ways, it would be easier if he had been vaccinated, then I've got something to grasp onto...there would've been a reason for it.
"It's had an impact on my grieving process and the rest of the family's as well," she said.
Looking forward, Ranby wants people to think of Liam's kind and giving nature instead of falsehoods.
She said her son was a giver before he was born as Liam was a cardiac twin. He kept his brother Luke, who didn't have a heart, alive as his heart pumped blood for both of them.
Sadly, Luke died at birth.
Ranby said Liam's traits continued as he was an organ donor and his heart had been used to keep a third person alive.
"He was so, so giving. He just wanted to help people because he was so giving and so loving."