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Health professionals explain VAERS reporting, reliability regarding COVID-19 vaccinations

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:41 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - It’s a tool used to report or research potential side effects of vaccinations. The Department of Health and Human Services’ website, VAERS, has been circulating on social media recently, claiming a number of deaths caused by COVID-19 vaccine.

VAERS reports can’t confirm that a vaccination actually caused a specific side effect. It’s just one too. The reports on the site are also unverified and anyone can submit one. So, they could be coincidental, inaccurate, or biased.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you might suffer from a fever, headache, or fatigue for a couple days. You can report those symptoms to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System. You can also search reports of other potential vaccine side effects, but it’s important to remember that each report is unverified and anyone can submit one.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Healthy System said that’s why VAERS data can’t be used to determine if the vaccine actually caused the adverse effect.

He said people are able to input anything they want into that system.

“But it doesn’t mean that because it’s inputted into that system it’s really associated with vaccination,” Dr. Hawkinson said.

If someone dies for any reason shortly after getting vaccinated, that’ll get reported to VAERS. If you filter results by state, symptoms and vaccination type, there are more than 50 reports of COVID-19 vaccine deaths in Kansas. ‘

“We do have such a large population, we know a certain amount of people will die every day. We now a certain amount of people will die on the day they got the vaccine,” Dr. Hawkinson said. “We know a certain amount of people will die within five to seven days of getting the vaccine. So, I think it’s really important for us to be judicious and understand, ‘is there really a causal link?’”

Remember, the reports on VAERS are made before any review or clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records. A disclaimer accompanying the data even say it may be inaccurate or coincidental.

Dr. Hawkinson said while adverse effects like myocarditis or blood clots can rarely happen...

“Your risk of getting myocarditis is much higher from getting the infection itself,” he said.

He also said if you have any questions about possible side effects from a vaccine, you should talk with your physician.

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