By Guy Page
Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Tuesday he was unaware the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website shows eight Vermonters have died as a Covid-19 vaccinations.
“That’s more than three percent of the deaths in Vermont. I’m a little surprised you haven’t mentioned that before,” Islander reporter Mike Donoghue told Levine at yesterday’s press conference.
The CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Response System (VAERS) allows the online searcher to isolate by state, vaccine type, and nature of adverse effect. Vermont Daily navigated the cumbersome online tool, isolating for Vermont, all Covid vaccine types, and death-resulting – and got the same number of Vermont deaths-by-vaccine as Donoghue: 8.
The VAERS system on the CDC website notes that statistics may be contributed not only by health providers, but by the general public, and offers a disclaimer that the information may be inaccurate or unverifiable.
The conversation between Donoghue and Levine can be heard at the one hour, 35 minute mark on the WCAX raw footage of the Tuesday, May 25 press conference.
Donoghue: “Can you address the various deaths linked to Covid 19 vaccine shots in Vermont? And will Vermont be adding those death statistics to the state dashboard? I’ve checked and nobody recalls you disclosing or discussing the Vermonters who have had reactions and died from their shots, that the CDC reports.”
Levine: “So your question has to do with people who have gotten the vaccine as Vermonters and have died …and the death was related to getting the vaccine?”
Donoghue: “Correct, the CDC website reports those by state. Vermont’s numbers are up there. We haven’t heard too much talk about those deaths.”
Levine: “We have the Vaccine Adverse Event Response System [VAERS] which allows us to look at deaths and serious reactions that could be potentially related to getting the vaccine. I’m aware of literally only two serious events per vaccine platform ….I’m also aware of some deaths that were questioned whether they could have been related to the vaccine or not. People who died within some time frame of the vaccine – not hours, I’m talking weeks…and then it’s a challenge to figure out if it’s a cause and effect issue, or if there was another condition the person had and the vaccine was coincidence. I’m not aware we have a long list of people who have been linked to the vaccine in terms of death. Do you have a number you’re dealing with?”
Donoghue: “It’s not my number, it’s the CDC number on the website, it has eight Vermonters being dead because of the vaccine shots.”
Levine: “That is clearly not the data we have, for sure.”
Donoghue: “You may want to get your numbers updated. I assume the CDC will share. They’ve got four women dead and four men dead.”
Levine: “Let me look into that and get back to you on Friday. Because that’s important information if that’s truly what they’re listing. If there was something that was a real signal of an alarm, we’d be aware. So let me get back to you on that.”
Donoghue: “That’s more than three percent of the deaths in Vermont. I’m a little surprised you haven’t mentioned that before.”
Nationwide, a National Vaccine Information Center review of VAERS data shows 227,805 adverse events following COVID vaccines, including 4,201 deaths, between Dec. 14 2020 and May 14 2021.
Donoghue covers local and state news for the Islander, the community newspaper for Grand Isle County and surrounding towns. He was a longtime police, sports, and local government reporter for the Burlington Free Press. A retired St. Michaels College journalism professor and past president of the Vermont Press Association, he is regarded as a zealous defender of the public’s right to know and an aggressive questioner of government officials who seem not to be forthcoming with public information.