Fact Check: The CDC Did NOT Report Twice As Many Vaccine-Related Deaths In 2021 As In The Past Decade

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: The CDC Did NOT Report Twice As Many Vaccine-Related Deaths In 2021 As In The Past Decade Unverified

Did the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report there are nearly twice as many vaccine-related deaths so far in 2021 than all the vaccine deaths this past decade? No, that's not true: The CDC has made no such statement. The claim misuses the unverified material from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as its source. Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, and those reports are not sufficient evidence to establish whether an adverse event, such as death, was caused by a vaccine. As of the date this was written, the CDC reports its doctors and medical researchers had detected no increase in vaccine-caused deaths during the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by The Gateway Pundit on March 29, 2021. The article, which was titled "EXCLUSIVE: Per the CDC There Are Nearly Twice As Many Vaccine Related Deaths SO FAR in 2021 (1,755) Than All the Vaccine Deaths this Past Decade (994)," opened:

There are more US deaths related to vaccines in 2021 in less than 3 months than there were the entire past decade.
The number of deaths related to vaccines this year has absolutely skyrocketed. According to the CDC's own data, in 2021 in less than 3 months, we have already seen over 1,750 deaths due to vaccines in the US.

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EXCLUSIVE: Per the CDC There Are Nearly Twice As Many Vaccine Related Deaths SO FAR in 2021 (1,755) Than All the Vaccine Deaths this Past Decade (994)

There are more US deaths related to vaccines in 2021 in less than 3 months than there were the entire past decade. The number of deaths related to vaccines this year has absolutely skyrocketed. According to the CDC's own data, in 2021 in less than 3 months, we have already seen over 1,750 deaths due...

As its source, the article cited VAERS, the government's rough list of unverified reports. The website for VAERS makes clear the system's uses and limitations. The site reads:

When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.

And, also:

A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report. VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.

Although The Gateway Pundit article includes a paragraph explaining VAERS, noting that anyone can submit a report and that the reports are unverified, the story's headline and opening attribute the claim to the CDC.

The article states "we have already seen over 1,750 deaths due to vaccines in the US," and that's not true. Based on the VAERS data, we don't know whether those deaths were the result of vaccines. All we know, for sure, is that someone reported that someone else died after getting a vaccine.

Also, although the CDC co-manages VAERS, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is misleading to call VAERS data "CDC data." Again, VAERS reports are unverified, can be filed by anyone and, according to the CDC, may include information that is incomplete, inaccurate or coincidental. VAERS is intended to be an early warning system, not a precise instrument of measure.

The Gateway Pundit article specifically mentioned COVID-19 vaccines.

From December 14, 2020 through March 29, 2021, more than 145 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States. According to the CDC, VAERS received 2,509 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who got the shot.

The CDC follows up on any report of death to see whether it was caused by the vaccine or unrelated. The agency says on its website:

To date, VAERS has not detected patterns in cause of death that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.

And later:

A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths.

As Lead Stories has previously reported, it is statistically inevitable that some people will get sick and die after getting the shot, for reasons that are unrelated to their body's response to the vaccine.

We've collected our prior reporting on claims about VAERS here.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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