Following conversations and rumors regarding vaccine fatalities, the News-Press asked Santa Barbara County Public Health officer Dr. Henning Ansorg what he thought about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. He monitors local fatalities following vaccination but hasn’t found any deaths that were caused by vaccination.
A main point of the interview: correlation does not imply causation.
Vaccines came under fire Wednesday night on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Mr. Carlson took data from the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System saying that 3,362 people died after getting vaccinated and speculated that the number is largely underreported.
But he neglected to include VAERS’ main guideline for evaluating its data: “When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established.”
Dr. Ansorg calls VAERS an “early warning system.” It looks for patterns in reports and in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, stops distribution.
“To determine if something that happened really caused the death or contributed to the death, it is a really delicate matter and takes a lot of deliberation and looking into all the circumstances to find the most reasonable explanation of the vaccine,” he said.
Just like when determining if a death was caused by COVID-19, a coroner has to sign off.
“So Mr. Carlson took the completely unevaluated data and just claimed a causality,” Dr. Ansorg said.
Dr. Ansorg was concerned upon seeing Mr. Carlson’s use of the data.
“It’s a big concern because we know that Republican-leaning members of our community are less likely to be vaccinated. And I think that’s because of misinformation, and that is perpetuated by certain individuals,” he said.
“All I can say is that it’s very unfortunate because our body doesn’t care one way or another what our political views are. Public Health should not be politicized,” he said. “So if we stop believing really good scientific data, we are really on a slippery slope to the dark ages, where there was no science and where people could just claim something because it was philosophy.”
Public Health is reaching out to hesitant communities by addressing churches and minority groups about the vaccine.
Dr. Ansorg understands some people may be wary of advice from public officials, so he recommends consulting doctors and vaccinated friends about possible side effects.
Dr. Ansorg acknowledges the presence of potentially serious side effects but states that they are very rare.
He followed by saying the United States previously reported an average of 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day but is now down to 750 deaths daily, which he attributes to the country’s vaccination efforts.
“California is doing really, really well with new cases, even in large cities. They even have less cases per capita than Santa Barbara, and that’s because they had all these mass vaccination efforts,” he said.
Public Health doesn’t get paid based on the number of vaccines it administers, so there’s no financial incentive to vaccinate more of the community.