VAERS is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and is a national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines. VAERS accepts and analyses reports of adverse events (possible side effects) after a person has received a vaccination and is co-managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recently an investigation by The BMJ into VAERS, found multiple deficiencies in the system, including the revelation that the government runs two systems — one for the public, and a private back-end system that contains all of the corrections and updates, including deaths that occurred after an initial injury.
The story follows below and was originally published in the Defender and written by News Editor John-Michael Dumais
When Dr. Robert Sullivan collapsed on his treadmill three weeks after his second COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021, he fell into a “nightmare” ordeal that he said exposed glaring deficiencies in the nation’s vaccine safety monitoring system.
Diagnosed with sudden onset pulmonary hypertension, the healthy and fit 49-year-old anesthesiologist from Maryland attempted to file a report through the government-run Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
But like others interviewed in a recent investigation by The BMJ, Sullivan hit barrier after barrier when trying to submit and update his report.
Almost three years later, still grappling with debilitating symptoms, Sullivan’s experience highlights the systemic problems with the U.S. adverse events monitoring system run jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
From doctors unable to file reports to disappearing data, limits on transparency and lack of resources to follow up on concerning vaccine reactions, experts warn VAERS is failing to detect critical safety signals.
According to one of those experts — VAERS researcher Albert Benavides, whose experience includes HMO claims auditing, data analytics and revenue cycle management — VAERS’ failure isn’t accidental.
‘THEY EVEN DELETE LEGITIMATE REPORTS’
Like others interviewed by The BMJ, Sullivan experienced limited follow-up after submitting his VAERS report. He received only a temporary report number months after his initial submission.
A physician named “Helen” (pseudonym) told The BMJ that fewer than 20% of concerning reports get follow-up, including many deaths she reported.
In consultation with Benavides, an audit by React19 found that 1 in 3 COVID-19 vaccine adverse events reports in VAERS were either not posted publicly or were deleted. React19 is a nonprofit that collects stories of people injured by the mRNA vaccines.