When Vaccines Go Wrong

It was a regular Thursday and I was headed to pick up my kids from school.  When I arrived, I could tell the director of the center was not her normal self.  I asked her if she was ok and for some reason, she opened up to me about how her son had a horrible reaction to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.  Soon after the vaccine was administered, her son’s blood pressure and heart rate dropped, which resulted in him passing out.  When he passed out, he hit his head, which caused a concussion that would lead to headaches and nausea for the next week or so.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was one of the worst vaccine reactions I had heard about from someone I knew personally.  After sharing her story, I told her that she absolutely needed to report the side effects to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  She was totally unaware of how to do this or that such a thing even existed for the general public.  That’s when I knew that I needed to start this blog and share the information I have learned through so many years of working in life science industries.  You never know when inspiration may hit you.


We’ve all heard horror stories about side effects from vaccines, that they cause autism, that they cause more harm than good and that there is no reason to get them because everyone else is vaccinated…right?!  Wrong.  Vaccines are absolutely necessary for continued public health.  They keep large communities safe from viruses and diseases that, historically, have killed hundreds or thousands of people.  That being said, there are sometimes side effects that you can’t anticipate.  Some of those side effects are minor and others, although very rare, can be life-threatening.

The FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have partnered to create a system for reporting adverse events as a result of vaccines.  The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is an electronic system where patients, doctors, or really anyone can go in and submit a form regarding any problems with vaccines.  This allows the CDC and FDA to make sure that vaccines are safe and that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Click image for the VAERS website

The form can be submitted electronically or through the mail and is very easy to fill out.  You are asked to submit information about the patient, reporter, facility, and vaccine, which triggers investigations to determine the cause.  Not all side effects experienced after a vaccine are a direct result of the vaccine itself but the FDA, CDC, and HHS have taken the responsibility away from you to determine that.  Providing reporting systems such as this one are critical to ensuring public safety and allow the federal government to take action when necessary.  Let’s all do our part!

Stay tuned to this blog if you want to learn more about vaccines such as:

  • The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
  • How to pull data for specific vaccines through CDC’s Wonder system
  • How vaccine-preventable diseases are making a comeback as a result of anti-vaxxers
  • The drug development process (how pharmaceutical products are developed and approved)

And don't forget to always...