By Erin K. Costello
There is so much to address in this "meme-a-fiction" MAM created and posted, but it is a great place to work from when debunking the VAERS claims often made by anit-vaxxers. I'm going to first address everything except for the *1-10% of all injuries are reported to VAERS.* That claim I am saving for the end because there are many links and sources to cite with the information available, though the claim of under-reporting, and over-reporting for that matter, will be discussed here and there throughout the post. For now though, let's move on to the first statistic MAM incorrectly alleges.
*3.4% of reported events went to court.*
This statement does not make sense. A person can petition the NVICP without having made a VAERS report. Not all reported events to VAERS qualify for adjudication. There are guidelines every petitioner must adhere to and meet in order to file a petition. Additionally, not all VAERS reports are automatically filed for adjudication in the NVICP, in fact, none are. It is up to the the person reporting to VAERS, or not reporting to VAERS, to petition the NVICP. Though a VAERS report does often precede petitioning the court, it does not have to nor does it always. Therefore, this stat is not relevant, nor am I sure where it was obtained.
Unless the above statement meant 3.4% of petitions to the NVICP went to court? This would not be close to accurate though. Since 1988 over 20,215 petitions have been filed with the NVICP. Over that 30 year time period, 17,627 petitions have been adjudicated, with 6,358 of those determined to be compensable, while 11,269 were dismissed. That means 87.197% of petitions filed to the NVICP have gone to court.
I feel it is important to be sure to mention the unreliability of VAERS reports. It's a self reporting system, meaning you can file a report, I can file a report, we can file reports for ourselves, for a loved one, without a diagnosis from a doctor, and without having to prove any of what our reports claim. I can file a report right now explaining how the MMR vaccine caused my 2 year old to to start speaking French and grow muscles like Popeye. I don't even have a 2 year old let alone a French speaking one with unusually large forearms. These reports are not followed up on by VAERS or anyone for that matter. This is an obvious problem, but it becomes an even larger problem when parents who believe their child was vaccine injured, even though they are clearly not injured in any way, or are clearly not injured by a vaccine. These parents, like many parents, believe they either need to first make a report to VAERS, or believe they'll have a better chance at compensation should they make it to trial, if they first can show a VAERS report. Often times these parents miss the deadline to petition the NVICP, or they don't meet the requirements, or they are denied adjudication, or they make it to court and are given a judgment against their claim. Every VAERS report they submitted is still on file in the VAERS database. Their report doesn't get removed simply because they didn't make it to court or didn't win compensation. Their report stays in the database regardless what their actions are after filing the report.
*31% of the cases heard are compensated.*
Using the data in the previous paragraph, over the same 30 year time period (1988 to now) 17,627 petitions have been adjudicated. Of those, 6,358 cases of the cases adjudicated were awarded compensation. This means that about 36.07% of cases heard were awarded compensation.
*1 person is compensated per 1 million doses distributed.*
This figure does appear to be correct. A compensable effect does not always equal death or long term disability though. There are certain requirements one must meet to be considered by the NVICP. The vaccine must first be covered. Those covered are "Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DTaP, DT, TT, or Td), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR or any components), polio (OPV or IPV), hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), varicella (chicken pox), rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines."
"Specifically, effective as of August 26, 2002, the Secretary added vaccines containing live, oral, rhesus-based rotavirus as a separate category to the Table, with an associated injury of intussusception."
In the case of injury, a claim may be filed if the effects have continued for at least 6 months after the administration of the vaccine, otherwise the injury must have resulted in inpatient hospitalization and surgical intervention, and the claim must be filed within 36 months after the first symptoms appeared.
In the case of death, a claim must be filed within 24 months of the death and within 48 months after the onset of the vaccine-related injury from which the death occurred.
*Injuries could be as high as 88 out of every 10,000 doses.*
This could be true, in fact, I'd argue that it's more that 88/10,000. First though, we have to clarify what constitutes as a vaccine injury. It is true that a vaccine injury could mean death, permanent disability, allergic reaction, or Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, the most common adverse effects are a slight fever for a day or two, soreness at injection site, high grade fever for a short time, achy muscles, headache, sleepiness, flu-like symptoms, or a red bump at injection site. Serious reactions resulting in death or permanent disability are extremely rare, so are allergic reactions. Allergic reactions usually happen within minutes of the vaccine having been administered and while still at the doctor's office. Therefore allergic reactions are almost always quickly resolved and easily remedied. The most common of vaccine reactions or injuries mentioned above are considered mild and almost always resolve themselves with in hours or days. It is most often these mild and common reactions or injuries that go largely unreported. No one thinks to report a low grade fever or a child who was sleepy for a day or two to VAERS. However, a severe reaction or death are almost always reported. In fact, events like death and disability are over reported since so many of them are either not proven to have been caused by the vaccine, or are proven to have not been caused by the vaccine. Also, since 1986, it has been required by law for doctors and vaccine providers to report hospitalizations, injuries, deaths and serious health problems following vaccinations to VAERS.
*With each child getting 72 doses, the chance of injury could be as high as 63%, or 2 out of 3.*
First, let's tackle the 72 doses claim. According to Vaxopedia, kids today get:
-13 vaccines, including 5 doses of DTaP, 4 doses of IPV (polio), 3 or 4 doses of hepatitis B, 3 or 4 doses of Hib (the number depends on the brand used), 2 doses of MMR, 2 doses of Varivax (chicken pox), 2 doses of hepatitis A, 1 doses of Tdap, 2 or 3 doses of HPV (the number of doses depends on the age you start the series), 2 doses MCV4 (meningococcal vaccine), and yearly influenza vaccines.
-About 28 doses of those vaccines are by age two years (with yearly flu shots)
-About 35 doses of those vaccines by age five years (with yearly flu shots)
-As few as 23 individual shots by age five years if your child is getting combination vaccines.
-About 54 doses of those vaccines by age 18 years, with a third coming from yearly flu vaccines.
Anti-vaxxers consider the MMR to be three vaccines even though it's only one shot. This is why their manipulation of the math land them at 72 doses.
That being said, now that we have broken down the vaccine totals for an individual, let's address the chance of injury. Remember, the previous claim alleges that injuries could be as low as 88 out of every 10,000 doses, yet the claim mentioned here alleges the chance of injury is 63%. I can't really work out this math since I don't know where she is finding her data from that could give her this result. All I can say is that it could very well be possible that 63% of children vaccinated will experience a side effect to some degree, almost all of which would be a minor degree.
*Still think vaccines are safe?*
YES! Yes, MAM, the majority of those who read this idiotic meme still think vaccinations are safe because they are safe! Only the few who are part of your potato salad think otherwise.
To give an idea on how safe vaccinations are, according to NVICP, from January 1, 2006* to December 31, 2017 there were 3,454,269,356 vaccinations administered. During this same 11 year time period, 6,094 claimants petitioned the NVICP. Of those who petitioned, there were 4,172 compensated, and 1,922 not compensated. This means that 99.999823% of vaccinations administered had no negative effect that required a petitioning of the court, and only 0.000177% of those vaccinations did petition the court. Furthermore, it means that 99.999879% of those vaccinations administered did so without any compensation from the court, and only 0.000121% of those vaccinations administered had won any compensation.
*This time frame begins on this date (January 1, 2006) to reflect petitions filed since the inclusion of the influenza vaccine in July, 2015. The influenza vaccine is now named in the majority of all NVICP petitions.
This meme is very misleading and manipulates math to further a false and dangerous agenda. The maker of this meme, and all those who share it as fact, do not care about the health of their children, let alone the well being of your children. They either don't understand science, or they choose to ignore science. Either way, none of those who believe this meme should be giving medical advice in any way, shape, or form.
Lastly, I will now address the claim of under-reporting with *1-10% or all injuries are reported to VAERS.
"Under-reporting is an inherent problem of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS. The degree of under-reporting varies according to the adverse event. For example, one study estimated that 68% of cases of vaccine-associated polio are reported to VAERS, but only 4% of MMR-associated thrombocytopenia are reported . This variability in under-reporting can make it hazardous to assume that the relative frequencies of adverse events in VAERS reflects their relative rates of occurrence. In addition, for new products on the market, increased reporting of adverse events may occur; this has been termed the "Weber effect"
Cited from the following sources from 1995 and 1984:
9. Rosenthal S, Chen R. The reporting sensitivities of two passive surveillance systems for vaccine adverse events. Am J Public Health 1995;85:1706-9.
10. Weber JCP. Epidemiology of adverse reactions to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Advances in Inflammation Research 1984;6:1-7.
"Another major concern with any spontaneous reporting system is under-reporting of adverse events [16,30-32]. It has been estimated that rarely more than 10% of serious ADRs, and 2-4% of non-serious reactions, are reported to the British spontaneous reporting program . A similar estimate is that the FDA receives by direct report less than 1% of suspected serious ADRs . This means that cases spontaneously reported to any surveillance program, which comprise the numerator, generally represent only a small portion of the number that have actually occurred. The effect of under-reporting can be some-what lessened if submitted reports, irrespective of number, are of high quality."
The above was sourced in 1994, 1995, 1990, and 1987 from:
16.Chen RT, Rastogi SC, Mullen JR, Hayes SW, Cochi SL, Donlon JA, et al. The
Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Vaccine 1994;12:542-550
30.Rawlins MD. Pharmacovigilance: paradise lost, regained or postponed? The William Withering Lecture 1994. J R Coll Physicians Lond 1995;29:41-49
31.Strom BL, Tugwell P. Pharmacoepidemiology: current status, prospects, and problems. Ann Intern Med 1990;113:179-181
32.Scott HD, Rosenbaum SE, Waters WJ, Colt AM, Andrews LG, Juergens JP, et al. Rhode Island physicians' recognition and reporting of adverse drug reactions. R I Med J 1987;70:311-316
"Adverse events from drugs and vaccines are common, but under-reported. Although 25% of ambulatory patients experience an adverse drug event, less than 0.3% of all adverse drug events and 1-13% of serious events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Likewise, fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported."
The above was last updated in 2011.
"Reporting of adverse events appears to depend on a number of factors, such as clinical seriousness, temporal proximity to vaccination, and health care workers' awareness of and obligation to report particular adverse events. In our study, reporting sensitivitics for adverse events surveillance in the United States varied widely, ranging from 72% for vaccine-associated poliomyclitis to less than 1% for acute thrombocytopenic purpura following the MMR vaccine and hypotonic- hyporesponsive episodes following the DTP vaccine."
The above was sourced in 1986 from:
22. Sills JM, Tanner LA, Milstien JB. Food and Drug Administration monitoring of adverse drug reactions. Am J Hosp Pharm. 1986;43:2764-2770.
What's The Harm?