Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data containing reports of health problems, including deaths, following receipt of federally recommended vaccines that have been filed with the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).1 2 The latest release of VAERS data included descriptions of 438,441 adverse event reports following COVID-19 vaccinations, including 9,048 deaths3 that occurred after adults and children 12 years of age and older received experimental COVID-19 vaccines developed and manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna/NIAID, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen that are being distributed under a special Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)4 5pending licensure of the vaccines.
There have been more deaths reported to VAERS following COVID-19 vaccinations than for any other federally recommended vaccine since VAERS became operational in 1990.6
When deaths related to COVID-19 vaccines that occurred outside the United States are eliminated from the 9,048 total deaths reported to VAERS, the CDC reports there are just under 6,000 deaths following COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the U.S. that have been reported to the vaccine safety monitoring system. On July 7, 2021, the CDC stated on its website:7
Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 331 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through July 6, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 5,946 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
The CDC denies there is a link between death and COVID-19 vaccines, except a potential causal relationship between the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) that involves blood clots and low platelets that can cause death.8
VAERS is a centralized vaccine reaction reporting system that was among the safety provisions secured by parents of DPT vaccine injured children in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, an historic law in which Congress for the first time acknowledged that vaccine injuries and deaths are real and that vaccine safety should be made a national priority to protect the health of children.9 Under the 1986 Act, doctors and other medical workers administering federally recommended for children, which includes recommended vaccines that are also given to adults, are required to report adverse events following vaccination to VAERS,10 11 but there is no legal sanction for failing to report. Vaccine adverse event reports can also be filed by those who have received the vaccines, a parent or guardian of a minor child, or a family member.12
More Adverse Events Reported Following COVID-19 Vaccinations Than For Any Other Vaccine
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/NIAID COVID-19 were granted an EUA to distribute their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in December 202013 14 and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen were granted an EUA to distribute their adenovirus vectored COVID-19 vaccine in February 2021.15 Since then, the COVID-19 vaccine has become associated with the highest number of adverse events reported to VAERS since it began operating in 1990, with influenza vaccine generating the second highest number of adverse event reports (190,307) to VAERS. Pertussis-containing vaccines have generated 170,372 adverse event reports and hepatitis B containing vaccines have generated 95,533 adverse event reports to VAERS.16
Compared to the number of adverse event reports filed in VAERS for other federally recommended vaccines, there have been more deaths reported following receipt of COVID-19 vaccines than for any other vaccine since VAERS became operational in 1990. For example, out of a total of 17,875 deaths following vaccination reported to VAERS since 1990, there have been 3,199 reported deaths associated with pertussis containing vaccines; 2,789 reported deaths associated with Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) containing vaccines; 2,235 reported deaths associated with hepatitis B containing vaccines, and 1,947 reported deaths associated with influenza vaccines.17
According to a 2011 study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), less than one percent of vaccine adverse events are reported to the government. That study concluded:18
Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but underreported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of “problem” drugs and vaccines that endanger public health.
VAERS Accepts Reports from Vaccine Providers and the Public
The National Vaccine Information Center, a charitable non-profit organization founded by parents of DPT vaccine injured children in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education, sponsors MedAlerts, which is a user-friendly search engine of vaccine adverse event data reported to VAERS. Before conducting a search, MedAlerts advises users to read the following CDC disclaimer:19
VAERS accepts reports of adverse events and reactions that occur following vaccination. Healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public can submit reports to the system. While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. In large part, reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases. This creates specific limitations on how the data can be used scientifically. Data from VAERS reports should always be interpreted with these limitations in mind.
In describing VAERS, the CDC states that, “about 85 to 90 percent of the reports describe mild side effects such as fever, arm soreness, and crying or mild irritability. The remaining reports are classified as serious, which means that the adverse event resulted in permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death.”20
Make a vaccine adverse event report to VAERS here.
Mainstream Media Attacking VAERS
As the numbers of health problems following COVID-19 vaccinations, including deaths, continue to generate record breaking numbers of adverse event reports to VAERS, mainstream media outlets are publishing articles that attack the integrity of VAERS and question whether non-medical professionals should be allowed to report to or have access to information in the publicly accessible vaccine safety monitoring system.21 22 One vaccine developer and pro-mandatory vaccination proponent quoted in Politifact said, “it’s a noisy system that frankly is more frightening than helpful,” suggesting that VAERS data should be hidden from the public so it can only be analyzed by government health officials.23
However, in an article published in Newsweek, a University of Pennsylvania professor defended the transparency of VAERS, offering the perspective that a transparent system that has the potential to be misused is better than leaving people in the dark:24
“With public access, there’s going to be misinterpretation of the data there,” she said. “But without public access, I think it’s worse. Because then you just have people imagining what’s there. And that can really be worse.”
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1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fact Sheet for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): A National Program for Monitoring Vaccine Safety.
2 CDC. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): How VAERS works. Apr. 8, 2021.
3 MedAlerts. Search from the 7/2/2021 release of VAERS data: Found 438,441 cases where Vaccine is COVID-19.
4 FDA. Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained. Nov. 20, 2020.
5 FDA. Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19: Guidance for Industry. May 25, 2021.
7 CDC. Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. July 7, 2021.
9 National Vaccine Information Center. 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Also The Original 1986 Law.
10 42 U.S.C. United States Code, 2016 edition. Title 42 – The Public Health and Welfare Chapter 6A – Public Health Service. Subchapter XIX – Vaccines. Part 2 – National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Subpart c – ASSURING A SAFER CHILDHOOD VACCINATION PROGRAM IN THE UNITED STATED STATES Sec. 300aa-25. Recording and reporting of information.
11 CDC. 10 Things Healthcare Providers Need to Know About the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) 2019.
12 Fisher BL. DIY if Your Doctor Won’t Report Vaccine Reactions to VAERS. NVIC Newsletter June 2, 2021.
13 FDA. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Dec. 11, 2020.
14 FDA. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Dec. 18, 2020.
15 FDA. Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine – EUA for an Unapproved Product Review Memorandum. Feb. 27, 2021.
18 Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Electronic System for Public Health Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. AHRQ 2011.
19 CDC. VAERS Data: Disclaimer.
20 CDC. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): Information Collected from Reports. Apr. 8, 2021.
21 Dupuy B. Data from vaccine reporting site being misrepresented online. Associated Press Feb. 4, 2021.
22 Wagner B. Fact check: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System isn’t proof of COVID-19 vaccine deaths. USA Today June 28, 2021.
23 Settles G. Federal VAERS database is a critical tool for researchers, but a breeding ground for misinformation. Politifact May 3, 2021.
24 Goldin M, Gregory J, McDonald K. How a well-meaning U.S. govermment database fuels dangerous vaccine misinformation. Newsweek May 25, 2021.