Viral clip of CDC vaccine safety director shared out of context

A viral video of the CDC’s chief safety officer talking about unverified data on COVID-19 vaccine side effects has been taken out of context.

A video clip claiming to show a CDC executive admitting the COVID-19 vaccine causes debilitating illnesses has gone viral online.

The video comes from the January 26 meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biologicals Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on vaccine safety. VRBPAC meets annually to review and evaluate data regarding the safety, efficacy, and proper use of vaccines and related biological products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

A tweet with the video clip said: “JUST IN: As today’s VRBPAC Meeting ends, CDC Dep. Manager. Tom Shimabukuro admits COVID vaccines are causing ‘devastating diseases’.”

In the video clip, Shimabukuro said, “We are aware of these reports of people experiencing long-term health problems after getting the COVID vaccine.” The video clip has had more than 930,000 views and has also been shared on Instagram and TikTok.


Does CDC director of vaccine safety Tom Shimabukuro admit the COVID-19 vaccine causes debilitating illness?



This is wrong.

No, Shimabukuro is not saying that the COVID-19 vaccine causes debilitating diseases as a viral clip claims. He is talking about anecdotal reports of diseases submitted to the CDC database, not diseases proven to be caused by vaccines.


Tom Shimabukuro, MD, is director of the CDC’s Office of Immunization Safety. During the January 26 meeting, he used the phrase “depressive illness” — but he did not say such illnesses were a confirmed side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Comments that are being taken out of context are about illness reports that anyone can submit without proof, tracked through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of CDC. The database is used to record possible vaccine side effects.

The VAERS website says any reports submitted to the database are “not documented that a vaccine caused this event”.

The disclaimer on the VAERS website warns submissions “may include incomplete, inaccurate, random and unverified information”.

In an email to VERIFICATION, the CDC said the agency is aware of several reports of chronic illnesses that have been sent to VAERS following immunization, but those reports “are subject to change and no cause has been found.” specific medical agent for the symptoms”.

“Currently there is no epidemiology [scientific] Data from safety surveillance shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing these types of health problems,” the CDC told VERIFY.

During the meeting, Shimabukuro said the same thing when describing what VAERS does and how the database accepts data from anyone after committee member Hayley Gans, MD, asked him the CDC had tracked down the impact. How has the vaccine been used so far?

His full answer on the VAERS system can be read here, in italics:

“It’s a spontaneous reporting system and anyone can report it – the patient, the parent, the healthcare provider. And we accept all of those reports without judging the clinical severity or reasonableness of the side effect to the cause.

So we have other systems for tracking results in addition to the rapid cycle analysis results that were presented earlier today. At CDC, we also have a team called the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project, which specializes in detailed clinical advice at the request of healthcare providers.

[Viral clip starts here.]

So we take vaccine safety very seriously.

As for reports of people with debilitating illnesses, we are aware of these reports of people experiencing long-term health problems related to the COVID shot. In some cases, the clinical presentation of people with these health problems can change. And no specific medical cause for the symptoms was found.

We understand that illness is frustrating and stressful, especially in those circumstances. And we acknowledge these health issues have significantly impacted people’s quality of life. And has also affected the people around them. And we hope for improvement and recovery. And we will continue to monitor the safety of those vaccines and work with our partners to better understand these types of side effects.”

These comments about VAERS are part of a broader discussion about how the FDA can simplify how the COVID-19 vaccine is administered and whether vaccination schedules and doses should be changed for some people with high risk or not.

The World Health Organization says strict precautions are in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Like any vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause side effects, most of which are mild or moderate, and go away on their own within a few days.

“Having side effects after getting a vaccine means the vaccine is working and your immune system is responding normally. The WHO says vaccines are safe and that getting vaccinated will help protect you from COVID-19.

According to the CDC, as of January 30, there are no recommended changes to COVID-19 vaccination practices.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so you can understand what is right and wrong. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts, and YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Find out more “

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Text: 202-410-8808 Viral clip of CDC vaccine safety director shared out of context

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