By Zachary Stieber
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are aware of reports of long-lasting problems following COVID-19 vaccination, an official recently disclosed.
“With respect to reports of people experiencing debilitating illnesses, we are aware of these reports of people experiencing long-lasting health problems following COVID vaccination,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, said on Jan. 26.
“In some cases, the clinical presentation of people suffering these health problems is variable and no specific medical cause for the symptoms have been found,” Shimabukuro added. “We understand that illness is disruptive and stressful, especially under those circumstances. And we acknowledge these health problems have substantially impacted the quality of life for people and have also affected those around them. And we hope for improvement and recovery, and we will continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines and work with partners to try to better understand these types of adverse events.”
Shimabukuro was speaking during a Jan. 26 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting that discussed COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Hayley Gans, a pediatrics professor at Stanford University Medical Center, had asked how federal authorities were tracking problems that have cropped up after vaccination and might not be “amenable” to rapid cycle analysis, or one way of monitoring vaccine safety.
Shimabukuro noted that any person, including health care workers, can submit reports of adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which the CDC manages, “and we accept all those reports without judging the clinical seriousness or how plausible the adverse event may be with respect to causation.” Other systems also monitor safety beyond the rapid analysis, he added.
“We take vaccine safety very seriously,” Shimabukuro said.
Shimabukuro’s comments are unusual among federal officials, who have been reluctant to connect adverse events with the COVID-19 vaccines.
Brianne Dressen, who was injured by AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, said that the response was welcome but wondered whether it was enough.
“This was an unprecedented move but also was a carefully worded response. Instead of a little whisper in an FDA meeting, this really needs to be communicated to the medical community,” Dressen, co-founder of the support group React19, told The Epoch Times in an email. “They have said these very words to us privately so it’s good they are finally leaning in the right direction to start the conversation publicly, but is it too little too late?”
“Injured Americans have been begging these agencies for acknowledgement for over two years. This small utterance should have happened long ago. By now we should be openly discussing and researching these Covid vaccine reactions,” she added.
Few Events Acknowledged
U.S. officials have only acknowledged a handful of serious adverse events as being caused by one or more COVID-19 vaccines.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine causes a combination of low platelet levels and blood clotting known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, the CDC says on its website. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines cause severe allergic shock, or anaphylaxis, as well as a type of heart inflammation called myocarditis.
The CDC and FDA primarily monitor safety by examining data from surveillance systems to see whether adverse events are happening at high rates.
Both agencies have withheld or delayed disclosure of the results of some of the monitoring.
Hundreds of events met the safety signal criteria in VAERS, according to CDC records recently obtained by The Epoch Times. The CDC pointed to studies showing research is being done on some of the signals. It has also said the CDC analyses were done to corroborate results from analyses the FDA performed and that the CDC analyses revealed “no additional unexpected safety signals.” The FDA has refused to release the results from its analyses. A lawsuit was filed for the records on Jan. 26.
Another system, called V-safe, features surveys sent to Americans who received a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC knew that some serious events like myocarditis could be linked to the vaccines but chose to leave those events off of the surveys, newly disclosed documents showed.
Nicole G., a nurse who was injured by a Pfizer vaccine she received due to a vaccine mandate and asked that her full last name not be used, told The Epoch Times in an email that the CDC did not prioritize patient safety, pointing to the delay in conducting the VAERS analyses and the fact that vaccine recipients were not told about the adverse events authorities were expecting after vaccination.
“The censorship around the COVID vaccine has left us suffering and dying in silence with limited access to treatment,” the nurse said.
While Shimabukuro claimed that “no specific medical cause” was found for some of the injuries after vaccination, doctors have diagnosed Dressen, Nicole, and others with vaccine injuries, and medical literature has linked the vaccines with a range of issues.
Nicole called on the CDC to implement a plan to change the situation. “You need to do more than hope,” she said.
The nurse spoke during the public comment portion of the recent meeting, along with multiple others who said they were left injured by the vaccines.
“The only thing more humiliating than losing my bodily function is your complete disregard for the vaccine injured,” Danielle Baker, one of the speakers, said.
The CDC and FDA say that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines outweigh their risks for all ages. That includes the updated vaccines, which were authorized in the fall of 2022 without any clinical data and are set to replace the old vaccines soon.
“I think that the reassuring thing has been the safety profile that we have seen with the bivalent boosters, it mirrors very well the original vaccine,” Dr. Peter Marks, a top vaccine official at the FDA, said during the meeting.
In another portion of the meeting, Shimabukuro said the government’s identification of a stroke signal for the bivalents demonstrated that “the safety system works.”
“I think the public and the medical community should be confident that the government has the systems in place to rapidly detect potential safety problems and assess them,” he said. “And we place a priority on communicating in a timely and transparent manner.”