Betty White died of natural causes and did not receive a COVID booster shot a few days before her death, contrary to online rumors, her friend and agent Jeff Witjas said Monday.
"That's just not true — 100% not true," Witjas told the New York Daily News in a phone call.
White, who died either Thursday night or Friday at age 99, had been staying close to home during the pandemic, Witjas said.
He debunked claims circulating on social media regarding a quote attributed to "The Golden Girls" star in which she said, "Eat healthy and get all your vaccines. I just got boosted today," supposedly uttered by White on Dec. 28.
The memes about White being affected by the COVID-19 booster shot have proliferated online, with posts such as a tweet sharing the fabricated quote and captioned, "Died 3 days later! Coincidence," according to The Associated Press. The posts come with a link to an article in a Minnesota news outlet, Crow River Media, carrying the title, "Betty White: I'm lucky to still be in good health." The article itself says nothing about a booster shot, AP said.
The rumors are all not true, said Witjas, a longtime friend of White. He added that he had no idea of White's vaccination status overall.
"But I do know for a fact that a booster was not involved at all in Betty's passing," Witjas told the Daily News. "That seems to be the story out there, and it's just not true. Betty passed due to natural causes."
He said she had been "well taken care of" by people who were supremely careful about their shots.
"People can do what they want to do. But they shouldn't hang it on Betty for any reason. It's just not right. It's not her legacy," Witjas said. "She was never a political person when she lived. I would certainly hate to see her become politicized in passing."
"Betty always spoke the truth," Witjas said. "I as her agent always spoke the truth with her. It's not going to stop now."
He also expressed worry that people might be deterred by the false reports.
"If people truly believe that Betty passed away because of a COVID shot, a booster, they're not going to go out and get it," Witjas said.
"Today you can attribute anything to anybody, and make it true. But I don't want that to be done to Betty," he said. "Unless it's true. But in this case it's not true."
White's death came just 18 days before what would have been her 100th birthday. Her death was mourned widely by celebrities and animal rights groups, and everyone in between.