You've probably seen something like this in the past week or so:
Someone is working hard to spread the message that VAERS - the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, that records post-vaccination injury, side effects and death - is unreliable because "anyone" can submit a VAERS report.
This is an old talking point from the camp that wants us all to believe that any ill effects from vaccines are de minimus, and are far outweighed by the benefits vaccines confer. But it's a talking point that, upon scrutiny, doesn't make a lot of sense.
1. Yes, it is technically true that "anyone" can submit a report to VAERS. However knowingly submitting a false report is a Federal offense. So anyone (including vaccine-pushing trolls trying to make a point) who does this is putting a lot at risk;
2. It has been pretty well established that vaccine injuries are very much under-reported. First, there is David Kessler's paper on reporting adverse events, in which he states (regarding adverse events from all medications, not only vaccines) "Only about 1% of serious events are reported to the FDA, according to one study." That study is "Rhode Island physicians' recognition and reporting of adverse drug reactions" from Scott HD, Rosenbaum SE, Waters WJ et al, in the Rhode Island Medical Journal, 1987.
My guess is that 1% is extreme. But other studies, and surveys, support the claim that medical professionals are failing to report vaccine injuries (only 18% of doctors said that they reported post-vaccine events in one survey, and one out of 40 in another.) And anecdotal accounts abound from parents who believe their children were harmed by vaccines, but whose doctors either failed to inform them that they could make a report, or flat-out refused to make a report on their behalf.
3. Again, yes, "anyone" can submit a report to VAERS. But who actually does?
Let's take a look:
According to the VAERS site itself, in 2015, only 7% of all reports came from vaccine recipients or their parents/guardians, and another 10% came from "other sources." The rest of the reports, 83% of them, the vast, vast majority, came from vaccine manufacturers, health care providers, and state immunization programs.
So, even if we assume that every single report filed by a vaccine recipient or family member (or "other") is invalid, the totality of those reports accounts for a whopping 17% of all VAERS reports. Or at least it did back in 2015 and 2017. If "just anyone" being able to submit a VAERS report is a problem, it is not a very big one.
You may notice that I had to take this screenshot from the Wayback Machine. You may wonder why that is. Here's why: Because sometime in 2017, the folks at VAERS took this information down from their site. Or, if it is still there, I was unable to find it.
Maybe now you're wondering why they took this information down, and whether - now that so many people are interested in VAERS, and in how "just anyone" can submit a report – they might consider putting it back up again.
So am I.