Fact Check-VAERS reported vaccine deaths have not been confirmed or deemed causal by CDC

Correction June 14, 2021: A previous version of this check said in paragraph eight that the figure of 0.0017% was a percentage of those who had received the vaccine. This has been corrected to state that the percentage relates to the number of doses administered.

An article claiming that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 4,178 Americans died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is missing key context.

The article’s headline reads, “CDC: 4,178 Americans DEAD Following Experimental COVID Injections – Deaths from COVID Shots now Equal 20 Years of Recorded Deaths Following Vaccines Since 2001.” However by CDC, they actually mean the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS (the article is archived ).

The CDC explains on its website that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires healthcare workers to report any deaths after vaccination to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). It is also important to note that VAERS is also open for any member of the public for submissions, alongside healthcare workers ( These reports do not necessarily imply that the vaccine caused the death and often include entries not yet confirmed or verified by the government agencies.

Examples of posts sharing the article can be seen here and here .

The CDC links to VAERS, here l .

The page clearly states that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, “under the most intense safety monitoring in United States history,” and recommends receiving the vaccine as soon as possible.

The CDC explains here that VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event regardless of proof that it was caused by the vaccine.

VAERS did receive 4,178 reports of deaths (0.0017% of all vaccine doses) between Dec. 14, 2020 and May 3, 2021. However, these reports don’t point to a causal relationship between receiving the vaccine and death.

As of May 11, 2021, the CDC says that “a review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”

The way the article presents the reported deaths (a photo in the article reads, “CDC: 4,178 Americans DEAD after experimental COVID shots”) leads readers to believe this finding was confirmed and released by the CDC.

Reuters explored this lack of causality in other fact check articles visible here and here .

Reuters addressed false claims that the vaccines were “experimental” and had not been tested prior to the FDA’s authorization, here .


Missing context. There is no evidence that the deaths reported to VAERS after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are caused by the vaccine. Healthcare providers are required to report any death after vaccination to VAERS.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .