Fact Finders: Social media posts renew worries about vaccine safety

Does CDC system prove thousands have died from COVID-19 Vaccines?
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Some of you have seen a social media post claiming thousands have died from COVID-19 vaccines. The post will cite what seems like a reliable source. It’s data from the CDC. So, on this Fact Finders our viewer Megan wanted to know, “Does the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System prove thousands have died from the COVID vaccines? The answer -- is NO.

Anyone can add to the file. You can even download the data from VAERS. We did. It’s a huge file with thousands of reports. But these are unverified reports. Just because it’s in the system that doesn’t mean the reported problem is true or that it had anything to do with the vaccines.

Dr. Steve Lawrence is a Washington University infectious disease physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He helped us understand that just because something like a heart attack is listed in the data that does not mean a vaccine caused the heart attack.

“You can almost think about it the same way. It’s like how many car accidents occurred within two weeks of getting the vaccine. And so, we wouldn’t in any way ever think that a vaccine would lead to a car accident. And so many of these other types of things that do get reported in there are things that while they sound scary, unless there is additional investigation done to determine if there’s a link, there is no way to show that there is a cause-and-effect relationship,” explained Dr. Lawrence.

So, why have the system? It can help researchers spot rare problems. The data helped researchers find the rare blood clot problem with the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Out of 9 million doses of that vaccine administered by early May, the CDC found 28 blood clot cases. They have not found similar problems with the other two vaccines.

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