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VERIFY: No, the VAERS data does not show vaccine-related deaths

Social media claims have pointed to the vaccine adverse reporting system claiming it shows thousands of deaths caused by the vaccine.

PHOENIX —

THE QUESTION:

Does VAERS data show that thousands of people are dying from the vaccine?

THE SOURCES:

  • VAERS data.
  • Debbie McCune Davis from the Arizona Partnership of Immunization
  • Data from the Pfizer studies

THE ANSWER:

No.

VAERS data is a gathering point to help identify potential problems. However, the website makes users agree to disclaimers to not draw any conclusions from the numbers. 

Part of the disclaimer explains that the reports may "contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable."

WHAT WE FOUND:

VAERS stands for the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. VAERS is a starting point that allows the collection of data to be investigated later. 

"The FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after vaccination to VAERS even if it's unclear if the vaccine was the cause," McCune-Davis said.

McCune-Davis said this can lead to a misinterpretation of the numbers.

Currently, if you search VAERS data for deaths reported as associated with the vaccine, you would get 6,577 deaths in the U.S. If expanded to a worldwide scope, the total number of deaths reported climbs to over 14,000.

However, many of these deaths show no verifiable link to the vaccine.

For example, a 72-year-old woman died in mid-July -- a month after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was included in the report because she received the vaccine in March. (VAERS ID: 1478698)

"The data does not mean anything until it is investigated," McCune-Davis said.

After the data is collected in the VAERS system, it is then reviewed for trends and the cases are investigated.

This is what happened during the momentary pause placed on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the VAERS system helped identify a potential blood clotting issue after it impacted just six women.

A 6-month Pfizer study submitted to the FDA as a part of their approval process found zero deaths out of 44,000 people.

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