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Utah Medical Examiner’s Office finds no link between COVID-19 vaccine and deaths

FILE -- Vials of the COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, as the Salt Lake County Health Department vaccinates those 70 and older. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah  — Is there a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and the recent deaths of four people in Utah?  People are questioning the vaccine’s safety after reports of people dying after being vaccinated, but the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office said they’re not finding any evidence to show there’s a link connecting the vaccine to deaths.  

Utah Medical Examiners aren’t asked to perform autopsies on the deaths of those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, but Utah Department of Health officials say the ME’s office will look into every case where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.  Chief Medical Examiner Erik Christensen said they haven’t looked at very many people who died after getting their doses.

“We have autopsied a few and the ones that we have, we don’t have any evidence of a causal link,” Christensen said.

When asked about the reports of the four cases being linked to data on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS database, Christensen said he wasn’t able to confirm if those were the same people he conducted autopsies on.  Christensen said the VAERS system isn’t perfect, but it’s helpful.

“The VAERS database is a self-reported system and anybody can contribute data to that.  I think that’s appropriate.  That’s what it’s designed for, to catch anybody that might be an adverse reaction,” he said.

The family of one Ogden woman reportedly said she died after complications of getting her second dose, however, Christensen said he’s not at liberty to divulge his findings without the family’s permission.  All he could say is that the physical work of the autopsy has been concluded, but the lab results haven’t returned.

However, speaking in general terms, Christensen said there would be signs if someone had a bad reaction to the vaccine.

He said, “If somebody has an acute allergic reaction that could lead to death, we would be able to find evidence of that in chemical testing, immunologic testing and, potentially, anatomic findings in the body.”

Christensen said their procedures may be able to find “competing” reasons as to why someone dies when they appear to be healthy.

“There are people walking around with disease they didn’t know they had,” according to Christensen.

The Utah Department of Health issued a statement, saying:

The Office of the Medical Examiner will investigate any death where the COVID-19 vaccine is mentioned on the death certificate. There is no evidence COVID-19 vaccines have caused any deaths in Utah. Reports of adverse reactions and death following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the reaction or death. Reports of concern are verified and undergo scientific study. The CDC also follows up on any report of death to request additional information and learn more about what occurred and to determine whether the death was a result of the vaccine or unrelated.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Get vaccinated.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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