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The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not reported data for children showing a higher death rate from COVID-19 vaccines than from COVID-19.
There is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Reacting to news that California will eventually require COVID-19 vaccinations for schoolchildren, a Twitter user claimed that among children, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a death rate 174 times higher than for COVID-19 itself.
The tweet, with a reference to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated:
"CDC numbers reported that among children 5-17 who had COVID-19, there was 1 death per 174,803 cases. Pfizer & Moderna trials w/ children showed 1 death per 1,000 vaccinated. So, California is actually mandating a vaccine w/ a mortality rate 174x higher than the virus."
A reader asked us to check the claim.
The CDC has not reported a death rate for children who have received a COVID-19 vaccine as higher than the rate of death for children who are infected by the virus.
In fact, the agency also says there is no clear evidence that any of the three COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States have caused any deaths.
Without specifying any vaccines, Newsom referred to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in saying California "will require our kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine to come to school. This will go into effect following full FDA approval."
The CDC recommends that everyone age 12 and older be vaccinated for COVID-19.
But the FDA has given full approval only to the Pfizer vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, and only for people age 16 and over.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15, are being administered through emergency use authorizations given by the FDA.
In the thread to his own tweet, the Twitter user shared a picture of a portion of a document that makes several allegations regarding kids age 12 to 15.
It’s not clear what the document is, but it states that trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each included 1,000 people age 12 to 15; that one 15-year-old died from a Pfizer vaccine and another 15-year-old died from the Pfizer vaccine; and that "it has to be assumed" both teens were part of the trials, thereby creating a vaccine-death rate of 1 in 1,000.
The document also alleges that the COVID-19 death rate for the 12-to-15 group is 1 for every 174,803 cases — and so, the vaccine-death rate is 174 times higher than the virus death rate.
The data do not bear this out; quite the opposite.
The COVID-19 death rate among children is minuscule.
As of Sept. 30, 2021, 520 children died from COVID-19 based on reporting from 45 states, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. That’s a death rate of 0.01% per case.
And there is no CDC data showing a vaccine death rate higher than a COVID-19 death rate.
In vaccine trials, zero deaths were reported among the 1,131 adolescents age 12 to 15 who received the Pfizer vaccine, according to an April 2021 FDA document. Zero deaths also were reported among 2,489 people ages 12 to 17 who received the Moderna vaccine, according to an August 2021 medical journal article.
In July 2021, the CDC reported there were 14 deaths among 8.9 million people age 12 to 17 who received Pfizer vaccinations. None of the deaths were determined to be related to the vaccines, said Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, professor in pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Florida.
There is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S. Researchers are still evaluating whether there is a connection between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and rare types of blood clots that have led to deaths, but such cases are few.
The FDA requires health care providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, jointly run by the CDC and the FDA, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause.
More than 390 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Sept. 27, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 8,164 reports of death (0.0021%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
But reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. Anyone can submit a report of an adverse event but the reports themselves are not verified. Incomplete VAERS data is often used in conjunction with false claims about vaccine safety.
In a part of the CDC website that addresses the topic of adverse events following COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC notes that "a review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines."
A tweet claimed that "CDC numbers" show that among children, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have a death rate "174 times higher" than the COVID-19 death rate.
There is no data to back up this claim. The CDC has not reported data for children showing a higher death rate from COVID-19 vaccines than from COVID-19. And there is no clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.
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Twitter, tweet, Oct. 1, 2021
PolitiFact, "No clear evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in the US," Oct. 5, 2021
Email, Dr. Mark Schleiss, professor of pediatrics at University of Minnesota Medical School, whose clinical interests include pediatric infectious diseases and vaccine advocacy, Oct. 7, 2021
New England Journal of Medicine, "Evaluation of mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine in Adolescents," Aug. 11, 2021
Email, Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, professor in pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Florida, Oct. 7, 2021
American Academy of Pediatrics, "Children and COVID-19: State Data Report: A joint report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association," Sept. 30, 2021
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Adolescents Aged 12–17 Years — United States, December 14, 2020–July 16, 2021," July 30, 2021
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Amendment for an Unapproved Product Review Memorandum," (Table 15) April 9, 2021
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination," Sept. 27, 2021
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