Opinion

Misinformation about vaccines hurt people 

Kira Dye

Lantern Staff

Are you hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine(s)? Have you been given conflicting information regarding the safety of the vaccine(s)? Here are the facts.  

Let’s start by asking: What is VAERS? VAERS stands for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and is co-managed by two different organizations: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS was created in 1990 and its sole purpose was to shed light on whether or not a licensed vaccine could be a safety risk to the American public. VAERS itself is consistently unreliable because it can, and does, accept reports of adverse effects of any major (licensed) vaccine in the United States from anyone. VAERS is required to accept all adverse effect reports from individuals. Meaning, if you were to get the vaccine for the poliovirus (OPV) and your mother thought she saw an adverse symptom from the polio vaccine – whether or not this symptom is caused by the vaccine or a completely unrelated condition – she can report it to VAERS. The organization is required to accept all accounts of adverse effects, death, etc. regarding the vaccine that was administered—whether or not they have merit or any connection to the vaccine.  

VAERS has an abundance of misinformation because it also requires healthcare providers to report to them if a death has occurred after an administered vaccine – no matter the cause of death. If there is no indication a vaccine administered on a patient caused the death, it must still be reported. In short, this means that any death happening after receiving a vaccine (such as OPV or a COVID-19 vaccine) is reported to VAERS even if the vaccine was unlikely to be the cause. VAERS does not review any of the vaccine symptom reports that are submitted. Anyone – a parent, teacher or another – could report an adverse effect to VAERS, vaccine-related or not.  

An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) gives additional information regarding adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccines to help confirm some of the things stated previously in this article. This article was cited in a story from British news source The Expose (dailyexpose.uk) trying to convince people that the vaccine has killed over 150,000 people – which was later disproved by the CDC. When you read the JAMA article next to The Expose’s publication, it has a completely different take. The JAMA supports the claim in the discussion portion of the article that the COVID-19 vaccines have an extremely low number of adverse effects on recipients. The article focuses on anaphylaxis (blood released to the immune system causing shock) and how it pairs with the vaccine. The JAMA claims that severe reactions happening with the COVID-19 vaccine are consistent with that of anaphylaxis. According to them, this only happens at a rate of 2.47 per 10,000 vaccinations. Although this rate is higher than the CDC (0.025-0.11 per 10,000 vaccinations), its anaphylaxis results are still extremely low. The recipients with anaphylactic responses coming from the COVID-19 vaccines had histories of anaphylaxis and allergies before even being administered their vaccine dose(s). The JAMA also admits to having self-reported data – bringing us back to the inaccuracy of collecting data on adverse effects and deaths regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.  

Can an exact number of adverse effects and deaths regarding the COVID-19 vaccinations be found without some form of inaccuracy? The simple answer is no. It is extremely difficult to gain accurate data when such a large sample size (rising into the millions) is present, much more so validating and reviewing each on a case-by-case basis. However, many sources, such as the JAMA and VAERS, put forth self-reported information that is not reviewed by any means. As previously stated: VAERS isn’t a reliable source for an exact amount of deaths or adverse effects regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and, quite frankly, there is not one that exists. Unless VAERS follows a reputable review process and adjusts its information accordingly, it is not a reliable source of information.  

According to the CDC, “…more than 529 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through January 18, 2022. During this time, VAERS received 11,468 reports of death (0.0022% of the total vaccinated count) among the people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.” This not only means that the actual number of deaths is likely lower (because reports are not verified by VAERS), but this also confirms that the vaccine is extremely safe regardless. NBC News is one of the many media sources that have an article dedicated to showing the total cases and deaths in each state and the country overall for the novel coronavirus. It shows that, in Kansas alone, there have been at least 681,405 cases and 7,319 deaths. Considering all of the prior information, it’s safe to say that the risk of getting COVID-19 without being vaccinated and then dying is overwhelmingly more likely than suffering adverse effects and, more so, dying from any COVID-19 vaccine.  

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