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May 12, 2021

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) that has been used for decades by public health experts is suddenly totally useless we are told. Weird.

VAERS  Politifact Cover (2)

Something odd caught my eye in the "What's Happening" sidebar on Twitter last week:


The systems are open to anyone, and are intended to provide an "early warning for any previously unknown effects" of COVID-19 vaccines, according to PolitiFact and Full Fact. Adverse effects and deaths reported on these systems are not necessarily caused by COVID-19 vaccines and may be unrelated coincidences, according to the CDC.

Okay, interesting, by why the sudden interest in such arcane matters all of a sudden? Why is this news now?

As it turns out, information in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Who's hands are "wrong?"

Those would be yours.

The thread related to the Twitter piece consisted of our various self-appointed Overseers of Truth being quite concerned that you are being exposed to some very inconvenient data.

They claim that the Covid vaccine is killing people is "mostly false."


I don't think that's as comforting as they had intended it to be.

The "anti-vaccine group" that is being fact checked is called, "Learn the Risk," and is a non-profit based in the United States. It's more than anti-vaccine, though, it appears to be generally anti-big pharma.

The Facebook post being fact-checked can be found here (an archived file) and a portion is screen captured below:


It goes on like that for a while, simply re-posting data straight from the VAERS system.

That's the entirety of the post, just a recitation of federal data.

Here is what Poltificact had to say about it:

Learn the Risk, an anti-vaccine group, recently published a post on Facebook with a list of people who died after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

"AGE 25. MALE. Vaccinated 12/22/2020. Found unresponsive and subsequently expired at home on 1/11/2021. Moderna vaccine," reads the first of almost 30 entries featured in the Feb. 9 post.

These entries are copied from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, a national vaccine safety surveillance program set up by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration that records health issues that arise after vaccinations in the U.S.

So far, so nothing.

This was the next section, emphasis mine.

The implication: That the reports show that COVID-19 vaccines contributed to the deaths of dozens of people, as young as 24.

"The implication."

Whose implication?

All "Learn the Risk" did was copy and paste government data, and it's the data making the implication. They didn't even editorialize on it that I can find, not in the post linked to by Politifact in support of its FaCT chECk.

"Learn the Risk" didn't claim the data "proves" anything (the word Politifact used in its tweet) or "shows" anything, (the word Politifact used in its headline for the story) they just laid it out there. Their only crime was to alert you to data that the feds have been routinely collecting since 1990.

According to the VAERS website,

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.

"Especially useful."

That is so 2019. 

Re-posting government data specifically designed to indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine, by an organization set up to question possible safety problems with vaccines is... wait for it...

"False news and misinformation!"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook's efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.

And so naturally it got tagged with this.


Politifact then goes on pointing out the various limitations of VAERS (really, we get it, it's not verified and not proof of causality) and even attempts to add a dollop of ridicule just for good measure.

To illustrate the shortcomings of the database, one physician reported that a vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk, the comic-book character. Both the CDC and the physician confirmed to PolitiFact that his report was initially accepted and entered into the system as an adverse event.

Ha ha! The Incredible Hulk! He's not real. This VAERS system that has been used by public health authorities for decades to flag potential problems is a complete joke!

Please stop paying attention to it.

Politifact's final summary:

A Facebook post from an anti-vaccine group shows a list of people who died after receiving COVID-19 vaccines, implying that the vaccine caused or contributed to those deaths.

Let me play "the definition game" that professional fact checkers find so endearing when it comports with their preferred narrative.

Here is one of the definitions for "implication."

A possible significance.

Keep that in mind.

The claim relies on reports from a federal tracking system of adverse events occurring after vaccinations. The agencies that maintain that system warn that the reports should not be used to draw conclusions about whether a vaccine causes a particular adverse event. To establish causation, experts look beyond isolated data points to studies of large groups of people to see if a negative symptom is more prominent in vaccinated people than in non-vaccinated ones.

To pause for a moment:

"Learn the Risk" is suggesting "a possible significance" using federal data specifically designed to be "especially useful for detecting... possible safety problem with a vaccine."

On to Politifact's big finish!

The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in tens of thousands of people.

True. But for thousands of others, it is possible that it has not according to government data.


We rate this statement Mostly False. ​

Even though "this statement," absent whatever ideological baggage you might want to bring to the subject, is objectively "mostly true."

I like context, and would have added it myself to the Facebook post, but that's me. Regardless, what "Learn the Risk" said is not only factually true, insofar as it goes, but it highlights something very real:

This system, which again has decades of use behind it, is recording orders of magnitude more adverse events than any vaccine in history. That is just true, and seems to have "detected" an "unusual or unexpected pattern" which is what VAERS was designed to do.

It could mean a lot of things, many perfectly benign, but could also include the possibility that the Covid vaccine, using new technology, developed in an unprecedentedly short period of time, and being administered under an Emergency Use Authorization, might have greater risks associated with it than others.

That sounds like something worth looking into. We have a right to know the benefits AND the risks so we can make more informed decisions. What are our media betters doing rather than providing us information so that we may make more informed decisions?

Parroting the corporate line, using the same arguments and the same language, in lock-step conformity. Pretty much every single one of them.

Don't forget the obligatory straw-men attacks on anyone who suggests that we should treat people like adults. I watched this segment. Carlson was very careful with his words. He thought it was newsworthy and people had a right to know.

I'm not "anti-vax" but I'm also not an "anti-fact." I actually got the Covid vaccine, having weighed the risks and rewards and making a decision that made sense for me and my family. Every citizen should be afforded that opportunity. 

So why are the authorities and their media enablers so fearful of information? Why are they so manic about forcing everyone to shut up and take the vaccine? It doesn't exactly inspire confidence. They would get much better compliance if they were just honest rather than giving people cause to question them.

I'm sorry, more cause to question them.

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May 12, 2021 at 10:06 AM in Covid-19/Coronavirus, Current Affairs | Permalink


Ha! That's perfect.

Posted by: Planet Moron | May 13, 2021 12:34:05 PM

Saw this earlier today: "Funny how we were all raised not to be peer pressured into taking experimental drugs, and now we're all being peer pressured into taking experimental drugs."

Posted by: bluebird of bitterness | May 12, 2021 1:19:04 PM

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