Reports of vaccine-related deaths on CDC site are unverified

Many are wondering whether the reports of adverse effects after the COVID-19 shot on the CDC/FDA/DHHS site called VAERS are real.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In North Carolina, 52% of the state’s eligible population has at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. While vaccine providers continue to work towards President Joe Biden’s vaccination goal of having 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated, overall, vaccine demand has waned since early April.

With the exception of a slight bump in demand, the same week Gov. Roy Cooper announced a million-dollar vaccine lottery, weekly vaccinations in the state are trending downward. The state is set to select its first lottery winner Wednesday.

Many continue to remain hesitant over getting the shot, with some asking whether viral claims pegging thousands of deaths to vaccine are true.

Several WCNC Charlotte viewers have asked whether a CDC-run website called VAERS is indeed reporting thousands of vaccine-related deaths.

The Question

Are the COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths on the VAERS site confirmed?


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health 
  • Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

The Answer

Any reports of adverse reactions on the VAERS site are not confirmed and should not be taken as fact, according to the system itself.

VAERS, which stands for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, is co-sponsored by the CDC, FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Anyone can go on the site and report anything and claim it is related to the vaccine.

According to VAERS, to date, there have been more than 3,800 reports of deaths that happened at some point after a person got a COVID-19 shot, but it does not mean the shot actually caused the death.

“The ones that are reported to VAERS basically have not been investigated. It’s unknown whether there is any relationship there,” Traxler said.

“Anybody, at any time, can put anything into it,” Priest said. “We have to be really careful about how we interpret information that goes into that system.”

In fact, before a person is allowed to access VAERS, the database makes them read a disclaimer and check off and box stating that they understand it. In part, that disclaimer reads that reports in the system may be “incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, and unverified.”

In reading some of the available report descriptions, many state that the person who filed the report did not even think the deaths were vaccine-related, but they just wanted to put it in the system anyways.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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