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VERIFY: The CDC does not show hundreds of children with serious adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine

An Instagram post has parents concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 for children. It claims hundreds of serious side effects.

AUSTIN, Texas —

The claim:

A post posted to Instagram read, “The latest CDC Data show reports of adverse events from COVID Vaccines surpass 220,000, including 943 among 12-17 year olds.”

The result:

FALSE - misleading.

The process:

The post came from the “informed and thriving” Instagram account, which published several anti-vaccination images.

The account pointed to a webpage titled, “The Deadly COVID-19 Vaccine Coverup.” The article cited data in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Three federal government agencies operate VAERS: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The raw data can be downloaded from the HHS website, and the CDC owns a searchable database called “CDC Wonder.”

The government websites showed multiple disclaimers about the quality of the VAERS data results. 

“While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable,” the HHS data page showed.

“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,” the Guide to Interpreting VAERS Data showed. 

The homepage for CDC Wonder showed the database “database contains information on unverified reports” and “reports are accepted from anyone.”

“VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem, but is especially useful for detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine,” the VAERS About page showed.


Using the CDC Wonder database, we looked at COVID-19 vaccines from all manufacturers, all states and from ages 6-17.

Three searches:

  1. We searched “all events” using the above criteria. The website returned 11,036 events and asked us to narrow our search.
  2. When we selected “all events” and “yes” for serious, it showed 46 events.
  3. When we selected “death,” it showed six events.

Of those six deaths, four pointed to cardiac issues and two showed suicide.

The data included pre-existing conditions and allergies at the time.

In the “serious adverse events” result, we noticed one event showed, "Patient is only 16 and the Moderna vaccine is only approved for those 18 and over. Her 23 year old sister, was forced by her father to take Patient with her to get the vaccine because Sister already had an appointment and it was 'convenient' and less of a hassle for him.”

The description also showed, “I do not know where she is or how to get to her to help her. If she is okay, I want and deserve to know this information as well.”

Another case showed a seizure and added, “Neurologist does not believe the seizure to be related to vaccination.” 

The federal government reported how the database is used to help identify problems with vaccines.

“The strengths of VAERS are that it is national in scope and can quickly provide an early warning of a safety problem with a vaccine,” CDC Wonder showed.

VAERS is used by the CDC and FDA for vaccine safety monitoring using patterns, known as “safety signals.”

“If a safety signal is found in VAERS, further studies can be done in safety systems such as the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) or the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) project. These systems do not have the same limitations as VAERS, and can better assess health risks and possible connections between adverse events and a vaccine,” CDC Wonder showed.

It’s against the law to intentionally submit false information to the VAERS database.


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