Do the COVID Vaccines Cause Miscarriages?

Claims that cite VAERS reports ignore that the system makes no attempt to establish cause and effect.

A viral social media post claims that the COVID-19 vaccines “are causing miscarriages.” The post includes a screenshot of data from what it claims is a list of reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database (VAERS), of pregnant women who had miscarriages after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The reports cited in the Facebook post are real reports and can be confirmed by searching VAERS using the ID number. But the data does not mean there is a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and miscarriages. 

The VAERS website includes unvetted and unverified information submitted by the public. The VAERS website states that “VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The report may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable.”

Ronald Gibbs, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford School of Medicine, noted to the Dispatch Fact Check that VAERS is a collaboration of two governmental organizations: the CDC and the FDA. “It’s purpose,” he noted, “is to passively have individuals be able to report any adverse effects from a vaccine.” 

Anyone can file a report, he said, and it is not intended to “establish, in a systematic way, rates of complications, nor is it designed to establish cause and effect.” VAERS is used as an “early warning system to detect unusual patterns of any adverse effects that might indicate a possible safety problem.”

Furthermore, as The Dispatch’s Alec Dent mentioned in an earlier fact check: “the reports filed through VAERS are not indicative of actual vaccine side effects, they’re simply used as a jumping off point for investigating possible adverse effects. It may turn out that a previously unknown adverse effect is tied to the vaccine in question, though the reported adverse event may turn out to be entirely unrelated to the vaccine. It’s also entirely possible for false reports to be filed with VAERS—Vice shared the story of anesthesiologist James Laidler, who filed a VAERS report claiming a flu shot turned him into the Hulk. Laidler did so to show why unverified reports in VAERS should be taken with a grain of salt.”

Gibbs also mentioned that miscarriages, also called “spontaneous abortion” occur in about 10 to 15 percent of recognized pregnancies. “With 250 million doses of vaccines having been distributed in the United States and with tens of thousands of pregnant women having chosen to get the vaccine,” he said, “then it is certainly expected that some women who would have gotten the vaccine, would have had a miscarriage.”

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