August 10, 2021

A TikTok video liked more than 936,000 times claims that COVID-19 vaccines have killed some 6,000 people in the United States.

“The Vaccine Adverse Event Recording System shows that 5,946 people have died because of the vaccine,” the user states, referring to a government database called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS.

The TikTok post was shared on Facebook and flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

That’s not what VAERS shows.

In fact, there have been no established or proven cases of a COVID-19 vaccine causing death in the U.S.

VAERS is run by two federal agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. It is designed so that any person can report an adverse event that occurs after a vaccination, and anyone can scour the reports. The system helps researchers collect data on vaccine after-effects and to detect patterns that may warrant a closer look.

But VAERS accepts reports without verifying whether a vaccine actually caused that incident. That makes VAERS a breeding ground for misinformation that spreads quickly on social media and elsewhere. For more than 30 years, VAERS data has been misused to justify broad conclusions that vaccines are harmful.

As for COVID-19, more than 346 million doses of vaccines were administered in the U.S. from Dec. 14, 2020, through Aug. 2, 2021, according to the CDC.

During that period, VAERS received 6,490 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

But VAERS reports alone do not indicate whether a vaccine causes a particular adverse effect. They indicate only that a particular event occurred after a vaccination. Researchers can use that data as a starting point to study whether the event is linked to the vaccine.

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

The claim is inaccurate and unsubstantiated. We rate it False.

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for these fact checks here and more of their fact checks here.

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Tom Kertscher is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. Previously, he was a fact-checker for PolitiFact Wisconsin.
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