Trust & Verify: How good is the data on side effects and on who should not take the vaccine?

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FILE – In this March 26, 2021, file photo a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site setup in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The COVID-19 vaccine is regarded as the safest and most effective way to prevent serious hospitalization or death from the virus. While doctors and health care workers continue to push for more vaccinations, some strong skeptics are hesitant.

The WINK News Trust & Verify team received an email from Angele Boyd Myers, a retired research analyst struggling to find solid data on adverse health events related to the vaccine:

“The pressure to vaccinate is at an all-time high and yet my experience suggests that real vaccine safety is unknown because the data has not been collected.

How good is the data on side effects and on who should not take the vaccine?

Please investigate the truth about vaccine debilitating side effects and death!”

We met up with Angele Boyd Myers at her home in Bonita Springs. She wears her mask, practices social distance, and is clearly COVID conscious but even with widespread availability, she remains vaccine skeptical.

“The more I read, the more I have questions,” says Boyd Myers. “I asked myself as others have asked me why are you concerned about this vaccine compared to mumps, measles, polio, which we all took as children? I was not born in this country. To get into the US, I had to have my passport and my vaccination passport showing that I had all my childhood vaccines What’s very different from the way that those were developed when those diseases were so prevalent was that I feel they were done in a very, very public health-focused way. Today, I think medicine is very much a for-profit business.”

“Why can’t we find out the true percent of deaths? Due to the vaccine? Why can’t we find out the true percent of heart attacks? neurological disorders, strokes?” asks Boyd Myers.” I know of four cases, two in my family and two outside my family, that very, very much concerned me.”

Boyd Myers recalls her brother-in-law’s stroke that came on over several days with no explanation after receiving the vaccine. Another relative became violently sick after getting the second dose and required hospitalization. He is now permanently deaf in one ear. Another friend suffered all the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and another claims the vaccine induced paralysis.

“Who do you trust to tell you correct information in this situation?” asked WINK Trust and Verify reporter Lisa Hutson.

“That’s really tough,” says Boyd Myers. “There are many instances now where we know societal institutions that normally we used to trust and think whatever they said, was gospel, we’re questioning. So we search for information everywhere we can get it.”

Boyd Myers suggested starting with the Governor’s Office so the WINK News Trust & Verify team reached out on her behalf. We received the following response:

Governor DeSantis has consistently said that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for preventing serious illness in most people. In fact, Governor DeSantis himself is vaccinated and has said publicly that he got the J&J vaccine when it was available to his age group a few months ago. However, he has acknowledged that some people have underlying medical conditions that might make the vaccines less safe or less effective for them. Medical experts agree with him on this. Therefore, it’s very important for each individual to make an informed decision by evaluating the risks and benefits for themselves and their loved ones. There is no black-and-white answer that applies to everyone, and Governor DeSantis has always been honest about what the evidence says and doesn’t say.

We would advise her to speak with her doctor or a trusted health care provider who knows her medical history. Her doctor can answer her questions in the context of her own health concerns, and thereby help her to evaluate what risks she might face from COVID-19 and/or from vaccination. Most people are at very low risk of an adverse reaction from vaccination, but there are possible exceptions, which a physician would be able to explain in more detail.

If she has concerns about the new mRNA technology in some of the vaccines, she should consider that the J&J vaccine does not use that, and is more of a traditional vaccine. If she is concerned about the fact that the vaccines have been administered under Emergency Use Authorization, she should consider that Pfizer recently received full approval, and with more than half of Americans having taken the vaccine, there’s plenty of real-world data indicating it’s safe and effective for most.

Whatever she decides, she has the right to make a free and informed choice about her own health. For your audiences who have decided that they want to get vaccinated, but might not know where to go, I respectfully request that you share the state’s Vaccine Locator HERE.

Boyd Myers read the Governor’s statement and says, “Well, this is great but the reality is that the response he’s given, which is millions of vaccines have been administered. And it looks to be safe for the majority, doesn’t convince me when we know that the only reporting system out there about adverse reactions is the VAERS database.”

The VAERS Database or The Vaccination Adverse Reaction Reporting System is managed by the CDC and the FDA. They call it one of several tools they use to track patterns of serious reactions to any vaccine including COVID 19. However, the disclaimer on the database search site says the information found cannot be relied on as scientific research noting ‘The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable. Most reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases.’

LINK: CDC on vaccine safety

“The three of them that I know of none of the doctors reported it to VAERS database. Why? Because, one, they said we don’t have time and we don’t want to deal with the CDC,” said Boyd Myers.

Despite the Governor’s response, Boyd Myers says she wants to see better data on side effects and remains vaccine-hesitant.

We asked the CDC to give us more direct data on the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC says there are several adverse events known as “Selected adverse events of interest” which the CDC is watching very closely because they fall into the “Serious” category.

They are rare but can occur after a number of vaccines, not just the COVID-19 vaccine.

Anaphylaxis – (allergic reaction) occurred in 2-5 people per million vaccinated in the united states.

  • severe allergic reactions can occur after any vaccination, can be treated immediately

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome after the J&J vaccine is rare.

14.8 million doses of J&J as of Sept. 22. CDC and FDA identified 47 confirmed reports of people who got the J&J vaccine and later developed TTS.

  • There have been 3 confirmed deaths.
  • Women were younger than 50.
  • 2 cases of TTS were reported after the Moderna vaccine.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome – GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

  • Most fully recover.
  • Some permanent nerve damage.
  • 210 reports to VAERS out of the 14.8 million J&J vaccines.
  • 2 weeks after vaccination and mostly in men, many 50 years and older.

Myocarditis and pericarditis – 1,541 reports among people 30 and younger.

  • Most reported after mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna).
  • Male adolescents, young adults.
  • CDC, FDA confirmed 892 reports.

CDC and its partners are investigating these reports to assess whether there is a relationship to covid-19 vaccination.

Reports of death after the COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

  • More than 390 million vaccines from December 14, 2020 – September 27, 2021
  • VAERS8,164 reports of death (0.0021%)
  • FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it is unclear whether the vaccine was the cause.
  • Reports of adverse events to VARES following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
  • A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to covid 19 vaccines except in 3 confirmed TTS deaths after the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have a story for our Trust & Verify team, give us a call on our Trust & Verify Hotline at (239)344-5055. Your message and voice may be used for on-air and online use for WINK News.

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