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Man receiving a vaccination

Reporting VAERS

A Legal Requirement

Reporting VAERS: A Legal Requirement

Whether it is anti-vaxxers or just the postponing of routine vaccinations due to the pandemic, administering vaccinations is front and center in the news.

Whether it is anti-vaxxers or just the postponing of routine vaccinations due to the pandemic, administering/receiving vaccinations is front and center in the news. The Lancet reported in October 2020 —

"Social media on this topic has a grown between 7 and 8 million since 2019 (yes, one year) with over 31 million followers on Facebook."

Because of the recent interest and concern regarding vaccinations, it is a good time to review the legal requirement of healthcare providers to report adverse reactions to vaccines. And, a good time to review this information with your staff.


VAERS is the acronym for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Service which is monitored by HHS, CDC and FDA.  According to their website, this is a passive reporting system where anyone (including parents and patients) can report an adverse event. While healthcare providers are required to report certain adverse events such as those listed in their checklist, they are “encouraged” to report vaccination errors or events which occur even if it is not clear the vaccine was the cause. VAERS provides an early warning system to alert healthcare providers to possible health and safety issues with vaccines. 

Interesting, in running the report there were a number of medication errors reported such as administering an expired medication, administering to an inappropriate age, etc.

The good news is that the reporting can all be done online and kept confidential. HHS provides a checklist of what needs to be reported which includes information about the patient, information about the healthcare provider and information about the vaccine administered. In order to be well informed of what needs to be provided, HHS also provides a table of reportable events. The vaccines listed on the table are not limited to those usually administered to children, like DPT and MMR, but also those administered to any individual such as seasonal influenza, HPV, HepA, etc.

Knowledge is king when it comes to educating your patients/parents on the issue of vaccinations.

Additional Resources

For more information on either the growing movement of anti-vaxxers or VAERS review these resources further. 

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