Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said reports of Alaskans dying after receiving COVID vaccinations raises no concerns for her about the safety of the vaccines.
Speaking to journalists during a March 1 press briefing, Zink responded to a question from the Watchman about the fact that Alaska has a higher rate of post-vaccination deaths reported to the CDC’s VAERS website, which tracts adverse reactions to vaccines across the nation.
Nationally, more than 75 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. So far, there have been 1,095 deaths and 19,907 adverse reactions reported to VAERS over the past two months. Alaska has reported 10 deaths, and a total of 158 adverse reactions to VAERS, which is four times higher than the national average in both categories.
“A death reported in (VAERS) does not mean that the vaccine caused the death,” Zink said of the reporting system which allows doctors and the general public to report adverse reactions.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
In explaining the higher rates of reported adverse reactions in Alaska, Zink suggested that Alaskans may be more vigilant at reporting incidents after an anaphylactic reaction in Juneau made national headlines in December.
“There is a lot of just awareness and a lot of people reporting things in on a regular basis, which is great,” she said. “We want people to report in information. We want it to be there. We are working closely with the CDC, but at this time I have no concerns.”
“Everything we do in life has some risk/benefit to it and we’re always balancing that,” she added. “We have millions of people vaccinated at this point. So, we really see them as a very safe and efficacious vaccine, particularly when you’re comparing them to the risk of COVID overall.”
Of the 10 deaths reported from Alaska, all have occurred in people between ages of 70 and 100. A total of 33,500 Alaskans in this age range have been vaccinated so far.
The VAERS reports, however, are not comprehensive. A 2012 Harvard study of the CDC reporting system indicated that it only accounted for 1% of all adverse reactions due to low reporting rates.
COVID DATA IN ALASKA (as of March 1)
- 297 reported deaths attributed to COVID
- 22 COVID-positive patients are currently hospitalized
- 2.7% of all current hospitalizations are attributed to COVID
- 495 out of 1,137 adult non-ICU beds are empty
- 50 out of 124 adult ICU beds are empty
- 310 out of 341 ventilators are available
- 155,951 Alaskans have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine
- 103,668 Alaskans are fully vaccinated