Hey there, Colorado. You may have seen unverified reports of a 15-year-old dying after receiving a COVID vaccine.

Context is really important when looking at vaccine data — especially reports of deaths, so here’s how it works. 👇
The federal government collects data using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (or VAERS). Anybody can make a report — doctors and nurses, but also the people who received the vaccine or their family members.
The purpose is to have one, big, catch-all system to collect reports about any possible side effect.

But that leaves one very big downside: VAERS can contain reports for things that have nothing to do with a vaccination.
The government is well aware of this which is why they put a pretty big disclaimer — both literally and figuratively — on their website:

“VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness.”
Sometimes, the underlying cause of death is not fully understood when a report is made. Other times, the report is made to VAERS out of an abundance of caution.

Reporter @johningold found a reported death for someone who died in a small plane crash the evening following his second dose. Another was for a man suffering from chronic kidney disease who died four days after his first dose of vaccine.
Dr. Matthew Daley, who serves on the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told us dozens of Coloradans die every day from all sorts of ailments.

With 55% of Coloradans ages 16 and up vaccinated, there will be people who subsequently die for other reasons.
Once a serious report is made, the CDC launches an investigation to determine if the vaccine is responsible.

That's what happened with reports of rare blood clots, which is why authorities paused distribution of the J&J vaccine while they investigated. coloradosun.com/2021/04/24/joh…
But before the CDC can investigate, the report of the death is in the system that is open for anyone to see. As @PolitiFact reported, this has made VAERS fertile ground for vaccine misinformation that spreads widely on social media and elsewhere.

So as Colorado starts allowing 12-15 year olds to get vaccinated, you may see reports of unverified deaths on your timeline. When that happens, make sure to keep this thread in mind.

Also, while we’re here, we think fighting disinformation is a key part of being a local news org. We exist because of the support of our members. So if this thread helped you out and you’re able, consider becoming a member for $5 a month. cosun.co/3eiufzv

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More from @ColoradoSun

4 May
Do you value local journalism? We do. That's why we started in 2018. We wanted to tell in-depth stories that support our communities.
That's why we write award-winning articles that help Coloradans better understand our state. coloradosun.com/2021/04/29/col…
And that's why we teamed up with the National Trust for Local News to buy Colorado Community Media and its 24 newspapers. coloradosun.com/2021/05/03/col…
Read 5 tweets
3 May
Hello! We have some exciting news to share. The Colorado Sun and The National Trust for Local News have bought @ColoradoNewsCCM and its 24 Front Range newspapers.

When we announced The Colorado Sun nearly three years ago, someone asked whether we’d consider producing print newspapers one day. Our reply: We’ll do whatever Colorado needs us to do.
All too often, hedge funds are the first ones in line to buy newspapers. So we pooled our resources with the National Trust to create the Colorado News Conservancy, which will own and operate the papers.

Read 10 tweets

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