The false information and fear-mongering about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines continues to fester. It would be so beneficial if people writing letters to the editor did a little of their own research before stating untrue and distorted information.

VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) was set up in 1990 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Its purpose is to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines. 

Anyone can report an adverse event, not just those in the medical field. Since most reports to VAERS are voluntary, they are subject to biases. The VAERS site even includes a disclaimer stating “since anyone can report a death, the deaths may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable”. 

Social media posts and online claims have repeatedly misused and misrepresented the unverified data from the VAERS to make false and misleading claims about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Here are the facts on COVID-19 vaccine reactions according to the VAERS on Dec. 28, 2021. The FDA requires reports of any death following the vaccine, regardless if the reporter thinks the vaccine was the cause. This means if a vaccinated person drowns, gets in a car crash, or is struck by lightning, their death must be reported to VAERS as an adverse event. 

More than 496 million doses were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, to Dec. 20, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 10,688 reports of death (0.0022%), but each case is reviewed by doctors at the CDC looking at death certificates, autopsy and medical records. Additional CDC vaccine safety monitoring systems are then used to provide more rigorous scientific investigation of potential adverse events. 

The true number of deaths due to COVID-19 vaccinations following detailed clinical investigations is in reality very small.

The bottom line … over 204 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated. We have lots of real-world evidence … in addition to clinical trial data … to indicate these vaccines are safe, and that adverse reactions to them are rare.

Jackie Burich

River Falls

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