VAERS accepts reports of adverse events and reactions that occur following vaccination. Healthcare providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public can submit reports to the system. While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. In large part, reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases. This creates specific limitations on how the data can be used scientifically. Data from VAERS reports should always be interpreted with these limitations in mind.
The strengths of VAERS are that it is national in scope and can quickly provide an early warning of a safety problem with a vaccine. As part of CDC and FDA’s multi-system approach to post-licensure vaccine safety monitoring, VAERS is designed to rapidly detect unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse events, also known as “safety signals.” If a safety signal is found in VAERS, further studies can be done in safety systems such as the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) or the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) project. These systems do not have the same scientific limitations as VAERS, and can better assess health risks and possible connections between adverse events and a vaccine.
Key considerations and limitations of VAERS data:
VAERS data available to the public include only the initial report data to VAERS. Updated data which contains data from medical records and corrections reported during follow up are used by the government for analysis. However, for numerous reasons including data consistency, these amended data are not available to the public.
Disoriented; Urinary tract infection; Shingles/rash; Complaining of pain and burning; Complaining of pain and burning; she was not feeling that well; lose her mental faculties; This is a spontaneous report from a contactable pharmacist. A 94-year-old female patient (reporter's mother) receive the first dose of BNT162B2 (PFIZER-BIONTECH COVID-19 VACCINE, lot number: EL3246), via an unspecified route of administration on 07Jan2021 (around 3:15 PM to 3:20 PM) at 0.3 mL, single (0.3ml dose injection in right arm) for COVID-19 immunization. Medical history included blood pressure, cholesterol, blood thinner and fluid. The patient historical vaccine included varicella zoster vaccine live (ZOSTAVAX) for immunization. There was no history of all previous immunization with the Pfizer vaccine considered as suspect as this was the first dose. The patient had no prior Vaccinations within 4 weeks. Concomitant medications included ongoing apixaban (ELIQUIS) for blood thinner, ongoing furosemide (LASIX) for fluid, valsartan for blood pressure, ongoing pravastatin for cholesterol. The reporter was calling because her mother had the COVID-19 Vaccine on 07Jan2021, it was on a Thursday. By that Friday (08Jan2021) she was not feeling that well. Caller stated she did not know if what occurred had any correlation to the vaccine, but she wanted to report these details in case this started to be came a problem. Her mother is 94 years old and was in very good shape. However, now she was in the hospital completely disoriented. Since getting the vaccine she had subsequently broke out with shingles two days after getting the vaccine on 09Jan2021. Caller reiterated she was not saying this had anything to do with the vaccine, but she just wanted to reported these events. Caller initially stated it was unknown why patient was admitted to the hospital. She went on to explain her mother, the patient, was complaining of pain and burning. She started complaining of this pain and burning in the evening like around 5PM (on 08Jan2021 17:00). She later broke out into shingles. Caller mentioned patient has not had the SHINGRIX vaccine yet. However, she did have the older vaccine, ZOSTAVAX. Caller confirmed patient received the ZOSTAVAX years before. Patient went to the Emergency Room the first time on 09Jan2021 due to complaining of pain and burning and they could not find anything wrong with her. They checked her vitals and ran several tests and it all came back fine. They then sent her home. Patient went back to the Emergency Room on 10Jan2021 and completed another battery of test, labs, checked vitals, had chest x-ray, and cat scan at this time they could not diagnose with Shingles. On 11Jan2021, the patient had an appointment with her Primary Doctor and he did not find anything wrong. Patient came home with caller's sister and she was helping her get undressed. That was when the sister noticed a rash on the patient's body. The rash broke out on her body on Monday 11Jan2021. They tried to call the doctor that night, but did not get a response. On Tuesday 12Jan2021 they took the patient to urgent care and that was when she was formally diagnosed with Shingles. She was started on medication for the Shingles, Acyclovir, and sent home. They also thought she had a slight Urinary Tract Infection. She was started on CIPRO for the urinary tract infection. Patient was home for a couple of days in Jan2021 and she was not getting any better. She was then starting to lose her mental faculties. They thought this was from the urinary tract infection. Caller clarified the patient was then admitted to the hospital on 16Jan2021 due being disoriented. For causality assessment, it was mentioned that it is so coincidental this happened right after getting the vaccine. She was healthy and then it was like a snowball. The outcome of the events was unknown.; Sender's Comments: A possible contributory effect of suspect BNT162B2 on reported events cannot be excluded. The impact of this report on the benefit/risk profile of the Pfizer product is evaluated as part of Pfizer procedures for safety evaluation, including the review and analysis of aggregate data for adverse events. Any safety concern identified as part of this review, as well as any appropriate action in response, will be promptly notified to regulatory authorities, Ethics Committees, and Investigators, as appropriate.
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