What is VAERS, and why is it important?
VAERS, or the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, is a national surveillance system allowing individuals to report any adverse events after vaccination. The system was established in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a cooperative program to monitor the safety of vaccines.
VAERS aims to detect potential safety issues with vaccines so they can be investigated and addressed. This is done by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about adverse events. Anyone can report an adverse event to VAERS, including healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the general public.
The data is analyzed by the CDC and FDA, who work together to investigate potential safety concerns and take appropriate actions. This may include revising vaccine recommendations, conducting further research, or issuing public health notifications.
Hear Cheryl's Vaccine
Cheryl suffered SIRVA (shoulder injury related to vaccine administration) following a flu shot. Her vaccine injury claim was filed in the VICP by vaccine lawyer Max Muller where she obtained a settlement for her injury, lost wages and out of pocket expenses.
Understanding VAERS: How the system works
The process of reporting an adverse event to VAERS is relatively simple. Anyone can submit a report, including healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the general public. Reports can be submitted online, by mail, or by fax.
- When a report is submitted, it is reviewed by the CDC and FDA to ensure that it meets the criteria for a reportable adverse event. Reports that do not meet the criteria are not included in the VAERS database.
- Once a report is accepted, it is entered into the VAERS database and analyzed. They are then used to identify potential safety concerns and monitor adverse event trends.
- The CDC and FDA work together to investigate potential safety concerns and take appropriate actions, such as revising vaccine recommendations, conducting further research, or issuing public health notifications.
- It's important to note that VAERS is a passive surveillance system that relies on individuals to report adverse events voluntarily. This means that VAERS data only represents some adverse events after vaccination, as many go unreported. However, VAERS data is still valuable for identifying potential safety concerns and monitoring adverse event trends.
The VAERS system is a crucial tool in the ongoing effort to ensure the safety of vaccines. It allows for identifying and investigating potential safety concerns and helps to inform vaccine recommendations and public health policy.
Types of Adverse Events Reported to VAERS
Adverse events can range from minor, short-term reactions, such as soreness at the injection site, to more severe, long-term reactions, such as an allergic reaction or Guillain-Barré syndrome.
VAERS categorizes adverse events into two main categories: serious and non-serious.
Serious adverse events:
Serious adverse events result in death, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, disability, or congenital anomaly. Some serious adverse events may include:
- Severe allergic reactions
- Brain inflammation
- Blood clots
Non-serious adverse events:
Non-serious adverse events do not result in death, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, disability, or congenital anomaly. Examples of non-serious adverse events include:
- Soreness at the injection site
It's important to note that the classification of an adverse event as serious or non-serious is based on the criteria established by VAERS and may not reflect the personal experience or perception of the individual who experienced the event.
Additionally, just because an adverse event is reported to VAERS doesn't mean the vaccine caused it. Correlation does not imply causality, and the VAERS system is not designed to determine causality; it only records the association between the vaccination and the event.
VAERS receives reports of a wide variety of serious and non-serious, which helps to identify potential safety concerns and monitor trends in adverse events. It's important to report any adverse events to VAERS, regardless of how minor or severe they may be, to help ensure the safety of vaccines.
The Importance of VAERS Data in Vaccine Safety
One of the main uses of VAERS data is to monitor the safety of vaccines over time. Healthcare providers, researchers, and regulatory agencies can identify patterns or trends that may indicate a problem with a particular vaccine by analyzing adverse events after vaccination. This information can then be used to investigate the problem further and take appropriate actions, such as revising vaccine recommendations or conducting additional research.
Identify potential safety concerns with new vaccines.
The data collected by VAERS can help identify any unusual patterns of adverse events after a new vaccine is introduced. This information can then be used to investigate the problem further and take appropriate actions to ensure vaccine safety.
Evaluate the overall safety of vaccines.
By analyzing the number of adverse events reported in relation to the number of doses of a vaccine distributed, it's possible to calculate the overall risk of an adverse event occurring after vaccination. This information can be used to compare different vaccines' safety and inform vaccine recommendations.
Detection of rare or unexpected adverse events.
It also allows for detecting possible interactions between vaccines and other medications or underlying medical conditions that may not have been apparent during the clinical trials.
The data collected by VAERS is crucial for ensuring the safety of vaccines and identifying potential safety concerns. It's an important tool for healthcare providers, researchers, and regulatory agencies to use in the ongoing effort to ensure the safety of vaccines.
Challenges and Limitations of VAERS
VAERS faces a difficult obstacle in determining causality. It can only track the correlation between immunization and an event; it cannot prove that the vaccine was responsible for it. To definitively establish this, more rigorous research is necessary.
VAERS data needs more information on important aspects such as the individual's complete medical history, the vaccine lot number, and the concomitant medication. This limits the ability to investigate and understand the causes of certain adverse events.
In addition, interpreting VAERS data can be difficult. The data is based on self-reported information, which may need to be completed or updated. The data also includes various events, some of which may not be related to the vaccine. This makes it difficult to identify patterns or trends in adverse events and to distinguish between true safety concerns and coincidental events.
Lastly, the data is not representative of the entire population, as it only includes individuals who have experienced an adverse event and have chosen to report it. This can lead to bias in the data, as certain groups of individuals may be more likely to report adverse events than others. For example, individuals who are more aware of the VAERS system or have had a severe adverse event may be more likely to report it than others.
Our Experience with VAERS
I reached out to My Vaccine Lawyer after confirming I suffered from SIRVA. They were so helpful, understanding and thorough throughout the process. They were quick to respond, always answered the phone and I feel they fought to get me what I was entitled to. If you suffered from an injury then please call My Vaccine Lawyer. They will take care of you!
- Melissa Heffley, SIRVA Client