VAERS as "evidence" of vaccine harm

Another common anti-vaccine attempt at rationalizing the fear they want to instill in you is to point at the “Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System”, or VAERS. It is a system set up as a repository for reports from the public of “adverse” events following immunization. The vaccine injury act created it. Just about anyone can post an event to the system, and it is up to epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to look into the reports and investigate them. In most cases, it is determined that the event had a cause other than the vaccine. But that doesn’t stop the anti-vaccine groups from scaring you through quoting numbers they got from VAERS.

It is as if you were to look at the nightly news and determine that you’re not going to interact with the world because, hey, bad things happen out in the big, bad world. Though only the bad news gets reported, many times, what you get in a 2-minute blurb is not a true picture of reality. Want proof?

Let’s do this step-by-step, so you can follow along and discover the “evidence” along with me. Before we do that, let me warn you about a site that purports itself to allow you to analyze VAERS data. The site is called “medalerts.org”. If you look at the site’s disclaimers, you’ll learn that it’s run by an anti-vaccine group. Furthermore, some of the conclusions drawn from the data in there seem to be based only on the raw numbers. I can’t find any critical thinking there. So let’s do our own thinking. Let’s look at reported deaths associated with vaccines.

First, go to the VAERS website here. After you’ve read through all the caveats of the VAERS database, click on the bottom link to proceed.

Alright, so you’ve agreed that “the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not infer causality”, contrary to everything the anti-vaccine groups will tell you. Next, you’ll get to the following web page:

If you’re not tech-saavy enough to download the data and analyze it yourself, no problem. CDC has it’s own software program called “CDC WONDER” to analyze it for you. That’s what we’ll use for this demo. So click on “CDC WONDER“. You’ll get to this site:

Once there, we only need to adjust a couple of variables to look at all reported deaths. Under “1. Organize table layout”, you want to group results by VAERS ID and check the box for “Adverse Event Description”, like so:

Next, under “4. Select event characteristics”, you want to select deaths, like so:

That’s it. Now click on “SEND” at the bottom of the page. You will not be presented with all the reported deaths submitted to VAERS, for all ages, genders, and locations. It’s a huge file, so give it some time.

As of 12/14/11, a total of 3,504 deaths have been reported to VAERS. Anti-vaccine groups will tell you that all those deaths are from vaccines and that they’re evidence of how deadly vaccines are. Are they?

Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff.

CAR ACCIDENTS?

First, let’s look for deaths related to car accidents. Car accidents? Yes, deaths related to car accidents have been reported to VAERS because, hey, the accidents happened after the vaccination, so they must be related, right? Sadly, because people died, we find the following (all bolding mine):

VAERS ID 168749-1: “No data obtained. Parents are awaiting final autopsy report and the death certificate. These will not be produced until a final toxicology report is obtained. All of this is per the coroner. Autopsy states cause of death as undetermined. Death certificate states cause of death due to cerebral laceration w/open skull fracture due to an automobile accident.”

VAERS ID 209245-1: “This subject is a three month old female, who suffered a fatal head injury while enrolled in a comparative post marketing safety study of Daptacel (diptheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine absorbed) administered with other recommended vaccines according to the US standard of care. The subject received one dose of study vaccine: the last dose prior to the event was given on 01/14/2003. The subject “”expired instantly due to blunt head injuries in motor vehicle accident described as “”auto vs. fixed object, ejected,”” 18 days post immunization and expired the same day. No other information was reported. Death Certificate has been received. Autopsy has been performed but report not yet received. The event of fatal head injury was reported by the investigator as unrelated to the study product. The autopsy report states accident automobile, death. Follow up on 09/30/2003: “”Autopsy Report received by medical affairs on 09/16/2003. This three-month-old female is a victim of an apparent accidental death. “”Auto (passenger) vs. F/O, rollover, ejected“”. The base portion of the car seat strapped in the center of the back seat. The car seat carrier was facing rear, however it was behind the passengers seat of the vehicle (not locked in the base) with the seat belts in use. The car seat canopy was found with the descedent. She was about 100 feet north of the vehicle, face down with her head against a rock. There was a blanket covering her. Death is probably instant and is clearly from crushing blunt injuries to the head. Other injuries also listed in the autopsy report include a crushed head and multiple severe abrasions and probable compressed chest event due to collapsed lungs and areas of hemorrhagic discoloration on lungs. This can happen in infants without fractures of the ribs, etc. Other injuries included fracture of the left femur as well as crushed and avulsed toes of the right foot. There was no signs of internal torso injuries except for the lungs. No further information is anticipate”

VAERS ID 308661-1: “We received on 12 FEB 2008 from a healthcare professional the following information: A 7-year-old male patient, born on 21 JUN 2000 was vaccinated with FLUVIRIN (batch no. unknown) on 19 NOV 2007. The patient was killed in an automobile traffic accident on 01 FEB 2008. The subject had participated in a clinical trial sponsored by MedImmune. FLUVIRIN was used in that trial as a control, and Novartis Vaccine & Diagnostics (NVD) has donated the FLUVIRIN, but other than that has not been involved. Although the event did not occur during the duration of the trial, and the investigator did not see any causal relationship to the vaccination with FLUVIRIN, he reported the event to the IRB and NVD because the child had died.”
VAERS ID 367379-1: “Killed in a car accident while pulling out of the street where the clinic was located. Was turning left onto a divided highway when the driver’s side door was hit by an oncoming vehicle. Died on impact.”

SUFFOCATION?

All deaths are tragic, and nothing – in my mind – is more tragic than the death of a young child. Unfortunately, there are times when well-meaning parents place the child in an awkward position in their cribs or on their beds. There are other times when the parents fall asleep with the child next to them in bed, eventually rolling over and asphyxiating/suffocating the child. Again, because these accidents happened after the child was vaccinated, they were reported to NEDSS…

VAERS ID 082237-1: “pt recvd vax 24NOV95 & was sleeping w/father & found pulseless & unresponsive;brought to ER & pronounced dead;autopsy done conclusion accidental suffocation as COD

VAERS ID 161098-1: “Pt received vaccines on 10/25/00 and on 10/26/00, infant asleep with 16 year old sibling. Mother found arm of sibling across baby’s face and baby was not breathing. CPR was administered and intubation to no avail. Autopsy shows found unresponsive, congestion of lungs, kidneys congested. Final cause of death stated as suffocation by mechanical asphyxia.”

VAERS ID 204529-1: “Infant found unresponsive laying on stomach am of 6/3. The autopsy states suffocation.”

VAERS ID 215994-1: “Per EMS, found face down in crib not breathing. CPR initiated. Patient intubated and received O2, epinephrine 2 times, Atropine 1 time per ER record. Autopsy Report received on 4/27/2004 states COD was suffocation.”

There are plenty more related to suffocation, but you can see those for yourself now that you know how to access the data. So let’s just look at one more.

DROWNING?

As with car accidents, these accidental drownings were also submitted.

VAERS ID 206893-1: “This subject is a 9 month old female, who was enrolled in a Phase IV P3T08 (Daptacel) study. The subject received two doses of study vaccine; the last dose prior to the event was given on 12/27/02. The subject died of multiple system organ failure due to near-drowning, 163 days post-immunization. The event of drowning was reported by the investigator as unrelated to the study vaccine. Autopsy results are pending. From additional information received on 11/4/03 from the autopsy report: It was determined by an investigation that an autopsy would be necessary to establish the cause of death. Based on the known circumstances and cause of death, the manner of death is an accident. The drowning occurred in a wading pool. Follow up on 11/25/2003: “”Information has been received from an investigator concerning a 9 month old Hispanic female patient who was enrolled in a phase IV diptheria toxoid/pertussis vaccine/tetanus (DAPTACEL) study. On 12/27/2002, the patient was vaccinated with a dose of hepatitis B virus vaccine rHBsAg (yeast) (manufacturer unknown). Concomitant vaccination on 12/27/2002 included a second dose of diphtheria toxoid/pertussis vaccine/tetanus (DAPTACEL), a dose of poliovirus vaccine (IPOL), a dose of Haemophilus influenzae vaccine (+) tetanus toxoid and a dose of Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine (PREVNAR). 163 days post vaccination on 06/08/2003 at 15:52, the patient died. The cause of death was “”multi-organ failure due to near drowning.”” Autopsy findings included: heavy lungs with hypostatic pneumonia and diffuse alveolar damage; ischemic encephalopathy; thymic involutional changes; congestive hepatomegaly; generalized visceral congestion; minor contisions of legs. External examination revealed a normally developed, adequately nourished Hispanic female infant who appeared consistent with the reported age of almost ten months. Internal examination revealed histology-sections of all major viscera were submitted per the SIDS protocol; X-rays-total body X-rays showed no recent healing fractures or”

VAERS ID 331195-1: “Information has been received from a study concerning a patient (age and gender not reported) who was vaccinated with a dose of PROQUAD (date, dose, route not reported). It was reported that the patient died due to drowning (date not reported). This is one of several reports from the same source. Additional information has been requested.”

But what about all the others? Well, look at the data yourself. You know how to do it now, and – if you’re reading this – you’re a pretty smart person. You’ll see cases like this one, where it is painfully obvious that the vaccine did not cause the unfortunate end of this person:

VAERS ID 177955-1: “It was reported that a 44 year old white male was vaccinated in 1995 with a dose of pneumococcal vaccine 23 polyvalent and a dose of influenza virus vaccine. At the time of vaccination, the pt’s CD4 count was 250 cells/microL (19%) and he was prescribed concomitantly zidovudine, lamivudine and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim. It was noted that over the subsequent 2 years, there was a transient increase of his CD4 count to a maximum of 370 cells/microL and then a slow decline. The pt presented in 4/97 to the ER with a 6 day history of violent shaking chills, night sweat and malaise. The pt reported shortness of breath, occasional blood-tinged sputum and pleuritic chest pain for 3 days. The pt was known to have been HIV (+) for 8 years, with risk factors including IV drug abuse. It was noted that the pt had received medical care at the infectious disease clinic at the same hospital. It was noted that at his last appointment, 3 months prior to his presentation to the ER, the pt had a CD4 cell count of 216 cells/microL (16%) and his viral load was 1270 copies/mL. It was reported that the pt completely recovered from a hepatitis b infection, but hat a history of chronic sinusitis and hepatitis C. The pt had never suffered from the opportunistic infections common in AIDS. It was reported that in the ER, the pt was poorly cooperative, appeared pale and coughed occasionally. He was afebrile, hypoxemic and had oliguria. Septic shock with severe bacterial pneumonia was dx’d. Ceftazidime, erythromycin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim and IV hydration were administered. It was reported that the pt required orotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. About 11 hours after presenting to the ER, the pt developed recurrent ventricular tachycardia and expired. It was noted that with the exception of minimal aseptic leptomeningitis, the neuropathological findings were unremarkable. There was no evidence that the pt had a concurrent influenza infection. It was reported that Streptococcus pneumoniae was cultured from various blood

Unfortunately, I’m sure many anti-vaccine advocates will not hesitate to make giant leaps based on these reports. I’m not kidding you. Someone actually suggested that the person who drove out in front of a car was “disabled by the vaccine and couldn’t drive” the car or that the accident was done “to cover up the vaccine damage”.

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