Reports of life-threatening reactions resulting from the side effects of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are extremely rare. Still, it's important to address any concerns people may have.
Between December 14, 2020 and June 14, 2021, the United States gave more than 310 million doses of the three authorized Covid-19 vaccines. During that period of time, the public database known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, received reports of 5,343 deaths among those who received a Covid-19 shot.
But it's important to remember that VAERS is only a first-line, early reporting system meant to identify potential concerns, not confirmed problems. Anyone can report anything to VAERS, whether it's connected to the vaccine or not.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is very clear that a report of death on VAERS does not mean that a vaccine actually caused the death. CDC and FDA physicians review each of these cases in great detail once they're made aware. That includes looking over their entire medical history.
For the three Covid-19 vaccines, the CDC has stated that there's no evidence from clinical data, death certificates or autopsies to confirm reports of them directly causing death. Compare that with Covid-19 infection, which leads to death in nearly 2 percent of cases in the United States. That means 2 out of every 100 people die from a COVID-19 infection.
For more information about how vaccines are reviewed for safety and effectiveness click here.