What is VAERS?

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a publicly searchable online database co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that serves as an important early warning system for vaccine safety researchers by detecting “signals” of adverse reactions calling for further investigation or more immediate action.

While healthcare professionals and vaccine manufacturers are required to report certain adverse events occurring after administration of routinely recommended vaccines, patients, parents and anyone else can submit a report.

Unofficial vaccine warnings based on VAERS

While this transparency is laudable, you may encounter unofficial warnings of vaccine injuries that were based on raw VAERS data, purportedly proving serious harm that the CDC and FDA don’t want you to know about.

Are these claims credible? Here are some facts to consider:

VAERS is subject to inaccuracy and bias, as anyone and everyone can submit a VAERS report-including personal injury lawyers who would stand to profit from evidence of harm.

VAERS is a passive surveillance system that depends largely on voluntary reports rather than on careful data collection. Thus, VAERS reports must be investigated, verified and then analyzed to determine, for example, if the rate of certain reported adverse events is significantly higher than the expected background rate.

VAERS investigators follow up on all serious and certain other reported conditions, but the public VAERS database is not updated to reflect these much more accurate findings.

Reports often represent coincidental and not causal associations. Here’s an example: Say a parent reported to her doctor that her infant had a high fever after a vaccination. The doctor then submitted a report to VAERS. However, the parent did not mention to the doctor that her other children, who did not get vaccinated that day, were also sick. Did the vaccine cause the fever or did the child have the same illness as the siblings? Submissions to VAERS are not expected to reflect the cause of the medical event but only to report that the event occurred after the immunization.

There is good reason to be cautious when using raw VAERS data to make a vaccination decision, and to be very skeptical when someone else tries to prove a point against vaccines based on public VAERS reports and numbers.

For further reading, you can visit the VAERS website.