CLAIM: More than 1.4 million adverse events caused by the COVID-19 vaccines have been reported to the federal database VAERS through 9 Sep
AP RATING: Lack of context. VAERS, a passive reporting system operated jointly by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration, relies on uncorroborated reports submitted by the general public. It doesn’t prove that vaccines caused the reported adverse events. Claims have been made about the safety of the vaccines based on data from VAERS exposed by The Associated Press several occasions.
THE FACTS: Misleading claims of adverse events allegedly caused by the COVID-19 vaccines have surfaced again on social media this week in posts citing data from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) as evidence .
“Now that Biden has officially declared the COVID pandemic ‘over,’ can we pause and take a moment to recount the needless tragedy that the shooting and firing mandates have wreaked on our nation thus far?” the posts ask .
They continue: “First, let’s talk about the nearly 31,000 deaths since the COVID vaccine was rolled out nationwide less than 22 months ago. Would these lives have been saved if they had contracted COVID themselves and recovered naturally? The world will never know.”
A graph included in the posts states that VAERS reported 1,407,409 adverse events from the COVID-19 vaccines, including 30,935 deaths. VAERS data for other reported adverse events such as severe allergic reactions, miscarriage and heart attacks are also presented.
The numbers in the graphical compliance data reported by a website called OpenVAERS, an independent website frequently cited by anti-vaccinationists, which pulls data from the federal database. OpenVAERS numbers for adverse event reports are often higher than those reported by the CDC because the site also includes reports from outside the US. says the CDC VAERS has received 16,516 preliminary reports of people who have died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, while OpenVAERS puts that number at nearly 31,000.
Notwithstanding, posts citing VAERS data to cast doubt on the vaccines’ safety omit the important context that VAERS adverse events are not verified, as the AP does has called. VAERS allows anyone to submit reports of possible reactions after a vaccination and has it clear Disclaimer that reports “may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, random or unverifiable”.
The system is passive, meaning people self-report their information. Healthcare providers and manufacturers are also required to submit side effects reported after vaccination, even if they don’t know if the vaccine caused them.
While VAERS has many restrictions on the use of its information, database is considered the first step in identifying issues and concerns, which can then be investigated by experts told the AP. No vaccine is 100% safe or effective rare side effects Are possible. VAERS identifies unusual patterns that can alert healthcare professionals to further investigation.
“This number provides very little information on which to base conclusions about the safety of the vaccine,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, when asked about it in January a similarly misleading claim that 1 million adverse events caused by the COVID-19 vaccines were reported to VAERS. “We actually know from much better data sources that the vaccines are incredibly safe.”
For example, the CDC has identified just nine deaths causally linked to rare blood clots caused by Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 616 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States through Friday.
This is part of AP’s efforts to address widespread misinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about fact checking at AP.