Fact Checking a Marjorie Taylor Greene Tweet About COVID Vaccine Claims

On July 11, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican congresswoman from Georgia and a supporter of Donald Trump, tweeted that “[T]thousands of people are reporting very serious life changing vaccine side effects from taking covid vaccines.” She further claimed that the CDC reported “5,946 deaths” from the vaccine and that President Joe Biden is “going to homes to push shots.”

Many of the claims in the widely shared tweet are false or misleading. 

To start, while it’s true that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database (VAERS) “received 5,946 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine,” this doesn’t mean the vaccine was the cause. Per the CDC, health care workers are required to report any death after any COVID-19 vaccination, even if the cause of death is unclear: 

“FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.” 

Furthermore, as noted in an earlier fact check, VAERS data includes information submitted by the public that is both unvetted and unverified. Included on the VAERS website is a disclaimer that says: “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.”

The Dispatch Fact Check’s Alec Dent also explained that: “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.”

Greene’s comment about Biden “going to homes to push shots” is also missing context. On July 6, at a press briefing on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, Biden did say that: “[N]ow we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.” 

During a press briefing on July 8, though, White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified that members of the government will not be knocking on people’s doors to inquire about vaccinations: “These are grassroots voices across the country. They are not members of the government, they are not federal government employees,they are volunteers, they are clergy, they are trusted voices in communities that are playing this role and door-knocking.”

Psaki further emphasized that the federal government does not keep track of who has or has not gotten vaccinated: “the federal government does not have a database of who’s been vaccinated. That is not our role. We don’t maintain a database along those lines and we have no plans to.”

If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at factcheck@thedispatch.com. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email corrections@thedispatch.com.

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