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Vaccine Fear: Concerns about adverse events and long-term effects of COVD-19 vaccine

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Editor’s Note: The following is the third in a series of stories that address common concerns that may contribute to the hesitation of the COVID-19 vaccine.Read the previous article at timesfreepress.com/covid.

Six months ago, when the first non-clinical Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19, many people who dislike vaccines are still well aware of potential adverse events and the long-term effects of vaccination. You may be worried that you are not known to.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 315 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States so far, and 147.8 million Americans are fully under the strongest safety surveillance in US history. Has been vaccinated against. ..

The CDC and other government agencies continuously monitor the safety of vaccines, but the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System or VAERS, the government’s database for tracking adverse reactions to vaccines, does not understand how it works. It can easily be misunderstood by humans.

For example, VAERS allows anyone to report post-vaccination adverse events, with or without evidence that the vaccine caused the problem.

True vaccine adverse events are extremely rare, but they do occur. It is important to understand the difference between side effects and adverse events, which are the normal immune responses to vaccination, and to understand the circumstances under which adverse events occur.

This week, Times Free Press is addressing some of the common questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. “How will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe if development is urgent?”; “What is included in the COVID-19 vaccine?”And “How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?” In this article, we will consider the following:

Question: How common can we know that adverse events are common and that the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are absent?

Answer: The CDC states: “From December 14, 2020 to June 14, 2021, the United States received more than 310 million COVID-19 vaccines, during which VAERS received 5,343 death reports (0.0017%). I received the COVID-19 vaccine. “

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires healthcare providers to report deaths after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it is unclear whether the vaccine is the cause, and based on 2019, the daily average Nearly 8,000 Americans have died from all causes. Data from the CDC.

Daniel Salmon, director of the Vaccine Safety Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said the VAERS system is useful, but limited.

“There are many overreports. There are studies that examined VAERS reports of autism, and most of the autism reports came from lawyers,” Salmon said.

He said they could file a report if their dog was attacked by a car after someone had been vaccinated.

“It’s a ridiculous example, but it’s true,” he said. “VAERS has its good points. First, it provides a place to report to people and doctors. That’s a good thing. People need to have a place to report things. It’s not that expensive. You do. Helps pick up health events that weren’t there. “I’m hoping.”

This system helped catch a series of rare blood clots with low platelet counts known as TTS associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

As of June 14, the United States had been vaccinated with more than 11.7 million J & J / Janssen COVID-19 vaccines, and the CDC and Food and Drug Administration reported 36 confirmed reports of people who later developed TTS. Identified. Some of those people died.

“It’s an incredibly unusual medical phenomenon, so when you see it, you can say,” Wow, these are probably due to vaccines, “said Salmon. “If you see something like a heart attack, death, or Guillain-Barré syndrome, it happens without vaccination, so just looking at some VAERS reports doesn’t tell you if the vaccine is the cause. “

According to the CDC, other adverse events associated with the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States include anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe but treatable allergic reaction that occurs in about 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the United States.

The CDC and FDA have also confirmed 323 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis (two types of heart inflammation) after vaccination, and authorities are investigating whether they are associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. I have.

“A review of available clinical information such as death certificates, autopsies, and medical records has not established a causal link to the COVID-19 vaccine,” the CDC said of the other 5,343 death reports. I will.

VAERS has overreported, but Salmon said there are also underreported because not everyone knows about the system or it may have only a mild reaction.

“It’s worth it if you understand what it is and use it complementarily with other systems, but it’s really easy to misunderstand what VAERS means and what it means. .. [it] That’s not the case. “

Regarding the long-term effects of the vaccine, Salmon agrees, “I can’t be absolutely sure that the COVID vaccine will not cause any problems in 20 years.”

However, throughout the history of vaccines, adverse events have always occurred within the first six months of vaccination, and “the long-term effects of COVID are also unknown,” he said.

“People are, of course, angry at what they don’t know, but as you know, many viruses cause long-term problems that you haven’t known for a long time,” Salmon said. .. “For many, COVID is not serious. It is true, but for many viral infections, they are not serious at the time and at first glance we will find that they cause problems.”

For example, HPV infections, which are usually asymptomatic, are the leading cause of cervical cancer and can cause other cancers. Hepatitis B rarely causes symptoms, but it is a major cause of liver cancer, and fowlpox is usually a mild infection that can recur later. Life as a much more painful rash.

“There are many examples of viruses at the time that may not seem like a big deal, and after a few decades they will be really terrible. It will manifest itself as another type of illness,” he said. .. “There are no examples of vaccines. In fact, most problems are very quick.”

Contact Elizabeth Fite ([email protected]) or follow her on Twitter @ ecfite.

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