Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Remove COVID Vaccine Adverse Event Reports From Its Website

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Remove COVID Vaccine Adverse Event Reports From Its Website Still Gathered

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remove COVID-19 vaccine adverse event reports from its website? No, that's not true: The national public health agency did not remove COVID vaccine adverse event reports from its website. The CDC and other health agencies regularly monitor and report on vaccine safety, including adverse events, through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook by conservative podcaster Ben Shapiro on August 28, 2023. The post says:

CDC Removes COVID Vaccine Adverse Event Reports From Website: Report

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

facebook vax.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Sep 5 15:55:10 2023 UTC)

The comments section of the post on Facebook includes a link to an article on The Daily Wire website (archived here) with the same headline, "CDC Removes COVID Vaccine Adverse Event Reports From Website: Report." This is what the page looked like at the time of writing:

the daily wire.png

(Source: The Daily Wire screenshot taken on Tue Sep 5 20:17:07 2023 UTC)

The "About" section on The Daily Wire website lists Shapiro as one of its owners.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC said it's actively overseeing the safety of COVID vaccines using various vaccine safety surveillance methods. Press officer Scott Pauley provided the agency's response to the claim in the social media post and on The Daily Wire website in a September 4, 2023, email to Lead Stories. It said:

On May 19, 2023, CDC closed enrollment in v-safe for COVID-19 vaccines, however individuals who get vaccinated can still report any possible health problems or adverse events following vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Additionally, data from v-safe remains available for the public. Reports of adverse events have not been removed.

As mentioned during the April ACIP [Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] meeting, a new version of v-safe is being developed for use later this year. Once active, the program will collect data on new vaccines, allowing greater flexibility for surveys and permitting longer-term support for collecting data rapidly from vaccine recipients. CDC remains committed to studying the safety of all vaccines, including ensuring the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

VAERS, which the CDC co-sponsors with the Food and Drug Administration, operates as a crude early warning system and not as a database for the quantification of specific outcomes following vaccination.

Anyone with internet access can add a report to the VAERS list of reports. The public access link to it expressly warns against unwarranted conclusions based on VAERS material because the list only provides a tally of unverified notes about any health event people experience after they are vaccinated.

The list itself cannot be used to prove or quantify, since all it shows is a chronological correlation, not the causal link that would be more difficult to establish. It's the equivalent of a police precinct's running "blotter" reports that may serve as a starting point for police work, not an endpoint.

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Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to vaccines can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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