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.
Two months after the second Pfizer vaccination, we noticed that our 13-year old daughter developed hair loss, which our dermatologist diagnosed as alopecia areata. And at the same time, our 15-year old daughter developed pityriasis rosea. The family pediatrician diagnosed this, and it cleared within 6 weeks. We thought it was notable that both of our very healthy daughters developed something out of the ordinary two months after the second vaccination. Upon further reading, it appears that there have been numerous reports of both alopecia areata and pityriasis rosea being caused by both Covid-19 and the Covid-19 vaccine. Our family has been very careful, and no one has so far caught Covid-19, and we have all been double vaccinated and boostered (except for our 13-year old daughter, who has been double-vaccinated, but not boostered because we were concerned whether the booster shot would further the alopecia problem). Our 13-year old daughter has been losing large amounts of hair since August (8 months ago), and unfortunately she is continuing to lose hair. Dermatology Center, has treated my daughter for the past 8 months. Our family strongly supports vaccines, though I have to admit that after what my daughter has been through and continues to go through, we are concerned about giving her future does of the vaccine since this seemed to develop shortly after the vaccine. Before this, our daughter was in great health.
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