Fact-checking Sen. Ron Johnson’s anti-vaccine misinformation

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Johnson, who tested positive for coronavirus final fall, stated he was “sticking up for people who choose not to get vaccinated.” As of March, Johnson advised Source he had not but been vaccinated as a result of he beforehand had Covid-19.

In Thursday’s interview with conservative radio host Vicki McKenna, Johnson prompt there have been 1000’s of deaths related to Covid-19 vaccinations and that receiving a vaccine could possibly be notably harmful for individuals who had beforehand been contaminated.

To defend his place and name into query the protection of Covid-19 vaccines, Johnson cited numbers from the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which permits anybody to submit a report. Johnson stated that in response to the system, “we’re over 3000 deaths after within 30 days of taking the vaccine,” suggesting these deaths had been tied to Covid-19 vaccines.

Facts First: Johnson’s insinuation that these reported deaths are tied to Covid-19 vaccines is fully false. VAERS isn’t an official, vetted report of vaccine-related incidents. Anyone can submit a report and, because the system’s web site notes, “VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine caused a health problem” and “the reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.” Instead, the system permits the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration to watch for vaccine adversarial occasions and conduct follow-up investigations.

Johnson’s senior communications adviser Alexa Henning advised Source in an e mail Friday night, “The Senator is not suggesting the deaths were directly caused by the covid-19 vaccine,” including that Johnson is as a substitute calling for the submissions to VAERS to be taken “seriously and research what is going on.” Henning additionally famous Johnson’s help for the event of Covid-19 vaccines beneath the Trump administration.

As the CDC notes, well being care suppliers should report any demise that follows a Covid-19 vaccination. The company, together with the FDA, examine every demise reported to determine whether or not the demise was brought on by a vaccine.
From December 14, 2020, to May 3, greater than 245 million doses of the vaccines have been given, the CDC web site reports.

“During this time, VAERS received 4,178 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine,” in response to the CDC. The company has discovered no causal hyperlink between the vaccines and these deaths.

“A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines,” the CDC says.

The CDC says it’s believable that one of many three vaccines getting used within the US, made by Johnson & Johnson, might in uncommon situations trigger a harmful blood clotting situation referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. At final report, it had killed three folks out of greater than eight million vaccinated, and hematologists have been fast to level out that the chance of dying from a blood clot brought on by coronavirus an infection is many hundreds of times greater than that. The CDC says the advantages of the vaccines drastically outweigh the dangers.

Vaccination following a Covid-19 an infection

The Wisconsin Republican additionally claimed there is a danger of demise if people who beforehand examined constructive for Covid-19 obtain a vaccine.

“I’m talking to doctors who have, since day one, been concerned about vaccinating people who’ve already had Covid, because you die, not of Covid, you die of the immune system overreaction to Covid,” Johnson stated. “So there’s a concern there.”

Facts First: This is fallacious. The vaccines presently being administered within the US are thought-about protected and really helpful even for people who had been beforehand contaminated with Covid-19.

The CDC recommends people be vaccinated no matter whether or not they already had Covid-19 “because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.” Early research counsel people who had been beforehand contaminated with the virus might solely want one dose of sure Covid-19 vaccines.

Dr. Walter Orenstein, affiliate director of the Emory Vaccine Center, advised Source he was “not aware of any data to support Senator Johnson’s allegation.”

“An ‘overreaction of the immune system’ appears to be one of the ways natural Covid-19 infection leads to serious illness and death. There is the theoretical risk that vaccines might trigger that, but I am not aware of any data to date that support an actual role for vaccines in exacerbating the clinical illness,” Orenstein stated. “In fact, the trials showed that the vaccines, such as the J&J vaccine, are more effective against serious disease than mild disease. ”

According to Jennifer Grier, a medical assistant professor of immunology biomedical sciences on the University of South Carolina, vaccines add a degree of safety above and past the physique’s response to an an infection.

“The problem is that not everyone will develop immunity after a SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Grier wrote in an article for The Conversation. “For people who do develop immunity, the strength and duration of the protection can vary a lot.”
New research from the Penn Institute of Immunology suggests vaccine unwanted effects equivalent to a sore arm, fever or muscle aches are an indication of a constructive immune response and shouldn’t be a trigger for concern.

“Everyone has good responses to the vaccines. They work to protect people against COVID-19. But for those who may be worried about side effects, they are not necessarily a bad thing—they may actually be an indicator of an even better immune response,” stated E. John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute of Immunology within the Perelman School of Medicine on the University of Pennsylvania and senior writer of the report, in a press launch in regards to the report.

Source’s Andrew Kaczynski and Maggie Fox contributed to this text.

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