Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


US government website for collecting adverse events after vaccination is inaccessible to most users

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 19 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2449

Rapid Response:

Vaccine authorities don't really want to know about adverse effects.

Peter Doshi's discovery of the VAERS website malfunction is an interesting example of our CDC's lack of real interest in discovering vaccine adverse effects. VAERS seems to be nothing more than window dressing, and a part of US authorities' systematic effort to reassure/deceive us about vaccine safety. There are other examples:

1. Over 284 US cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported since August, 2014. (CDC, Acute flaccid myelitis, 4/20/17) The CDC and other authorities seem to have avoided investigating the possibility that vaccinations and provocation paralysis are co-factors in the causation of this terrible disease. (Cunningham, unpublished manuscript, 1/8/17, and many personal communications since January 30, 2015)

2. The 20% increase in autism spectrum disorder among the offspring of women who received the flu shot during the first trimester of pregnancy was dismissed as "non-significant" after an odd statistical manipulation. (Zerbo et al, JAMA Pediatr, 11/28/16 online) Donzelli and colleagues asserted that the statistics were not appropriate and that the risk increase, which meant 4 extra ASD cases for every 1000 women vaccinated, should be taken seriously. (JAMA Pediatr, 4/24/17 online)

3. Doshi states that, "no more than 10% of adverse events" get reported to VAERS, but the situation is much worse. From 1990 to 2007 there were about 80,000 US cases of Kawasaki disease; during the same period just 56 US cases were reported to VAERS--0.07%. (Hua et al, Pediatr Inf Dis J 2009: 28:943-947) The cause of KD is unknown; it is rare, it is very serious, and it is prevalent among young and frequently vaccinated children. If any event deserves prompt reporting to VAERS it is Kawasaki disease, but this does not happen.

The randomized trials leading to vaccine licensure are typically too small to statistically validate the occurrence of rare but serious adverse events, so this is left to postmarketing surveillance ("pharmacovigilance"). However, conscientious postmarketing surveillance simply does not occur....Walter Spitzer was a distinguished professor of epidemiology at McGill University. He once dryly observed: "The best way to remain in the dark about vaccine safety is not to look for it. One way not to look, but pretend to be looking, is to study small samples." (Spitzer, 'Is MMR linked to autism?' Testimony before the Government Reform Committee, US House of Representatives, April 25, 2001)

Meanwhile, US vaccine authorities are trying to mandate every vaccine on the immunization schedule for every child, regardless of the frequency, severity, and transmissibility of the target diseases, and regardless of serious limitations in our knowledge of long-term safety and effectiveness for many of the newer vaccines. (AAP committees, Statement on vaccine exemptions, Pediatrics 2016; 138:e20162145.) Breathtaking!

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 May 2017
Allan S. Cunningham
Retired pediatrician
Cooperstown NY 13326, USA