Fact Check-VAERS data does not prove thousands died from receiving COVID-19 vaccines

Updated to correct repeated clause and quotation in paragraph 12.

Viewed more than 21,000 times on Facebook, a video showing data collected by the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) claims that thousands of people died from receiving COVID-19 vaccines. The video, which fails to mention that anyone can report events to VAERS and that the database contains unverified information, describes reported deaths of individuals who died after receiving the vaccine as deaths caused by the vaccine, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has so far found no evidence that vaccinations led to patient deaths.

Available , the video in question, shared over 1,700 times at the time of this publication and titled “COVID19 VACCINES DEATH TOLL CLIMBING!!!”, shows a person scrolling through a VAERS dataset of death reports and saying, “This is the list of all the people who have died from vaccines.” The narrator clicks on random entries, including a 38-year-old in New Mexico and a 65-year-old in Ohio who were both given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, before saying that “the vaccine itself will kill you.”

The video’s caption links to the VAERS online database (, which is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The general public may report events to VAERS, and a disclaimer on the CDC website says: “The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable” (here).

When downloading the data, users are presented with a further disclaimer that the data does not include information from investigations into reported cases. The disclaimer also says “the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality” (here).

According to the latest data (here), 1,985 U.S. deaths of individuals who died after receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines have been reported to VAERS. Of these, 1,016 are listed as receiving doses from Moderna, 946 as Pfizer-BioNTech, 16 as Janssen, and seven as “unknown manufacturer.” In total, 1,579, or nearly early 80%, of these individuals were over the age of 65.

As stated here by the CDC, “Reports of death to VAERS following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death.”

Of the 145 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020 through March 29, 2021, “VAERS received 2,509 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.” Having reviewed “available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records,” the CDC found “no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths” (here).

Dr. Dana Mazo, an assistant professor of medicine who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, stressed to Reuters via phone the importance of distinguishing between association and causation when looking at post-vaccine death records.

“The idea is that we are vaccinating millions of people,” Mazo said, “and, unfortunately, when you look at 96 million people, some of them might die, and they would have died if they hadn’t been vaccinated.”

The fact that medically vulnerable individuals have had the earliest access to COVID-19 vaccines in the United States has also impacted the rate of post-vaccine deaths, Mazo said.

As reported here by Reuters in January, healthcare workers and people in nursing homes have been at the front of the line, followed by older members of the general population and people with pre-existing conditions ( here , here ).

In a WebMD interview here , Dr. Joël Belmin, head of geriatrics and vaccination coordinator at l’hôpital Charles-Foix in Paris, said, “In older people, due to their great frailty, a significant amount of spontaneous mortality is expected. In a retirement home, one in five people die each year. It’s therefore difficult to directly attribute these deaths to the fact that these people were vaccinated.”

The CDC estimates that about 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to residents in long-term care facilities as of Jan. 18, 2021 (here). By comparison, VAERS had received 129 reports of deaths following COVID-19 vaccination in long-term care facility residents as of January 18, 2021.

Reuters Fact Check has previously debunked false social media claims misinterpreting VAERS data here , here and here .


Misleading. This video takes VAERS death reports out of context to falsely claim that thousands of U.S. vaccine recipients who died after getting the vaccine died as a result of getting the vaccine.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .