Placer County Sheriff's office has said an individual who was vaccinated on Thursday died several hours after receiving the jab. The person had tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2020.
It is currently unclear whether the individual received Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. But as per the Facebook post by the sheriff's office, several local, state and federal agencies are now actively investigating the case. "Any reports surrounding the cause of death are premature, pending the outcome of the investigation," the post added.
However, the California Department of Health said: "While no vaccine or medical procedure is without risk, the risk of a serious adverse reaction is very small."
The health department explained that while fewer data exist on adverse reactions related to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, a similar vaccine has shown that the expected rate of anaphylaxis—severe allergic reaction—is approximately one in 100,000.
Not only the US but also countries like India, Israel and Norway reported cases of unexpected deaths of some vaccine receivers. Meanwhile, many people began connecting the vaccination and the deaths. But healthcare experts have been trying to make people understand that vaccines are not responsible for the deaths. So what is then?
Vaccines and Deaths
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any vaccine can cause side-effects, including tiredness, headache, chills and fever. But these are normal signs that the body is building protection and should go away in just a few days.
But in Norway, health authorities reported deaths of elderly people with serious underlying health conditions following the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This news triggered concern among people as many started to believe that vaccines are the reason. But later, a review by the World Health Organization (WHO) found no evidence to connect these cases with vaccination. According to WHO, the fatalities "are in line with the expected, all-cause mortality rates and causes of death in the sub-population of frail, elderly individuals."
In Germany, over 800,000 people have received their first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. As reported, seven elderly people died shortly after getting the shot. But the Paul Ehrlich Institute's investigation report said that the deaths were probably due to the patients' underlying diseases including carcinomas, kidney deficiencies and Alzheimer's, not the vaccination.
This week MLB legend Hank Aron, who took a vaccine shot on January 5 to spread the word to millions that the vaccines are safe, died on Friday, January 22. This incident once again helped the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists to spread rumors about the deadly side effects of vaccines.
But Dr. Walter A. Orenstein, a former director at the CDC's immunization program and a professor at the Emory Vaccine Center, said that all the data in huge clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccines did not support a role for the vaccine in causing death. "My fear is people will act emotionally and not get vaccinated...My fear is that people misinterpret this and say, 'Aha, see the vaccine is dangerous,' when in fact there's no scientific data to support that hypothesis at all," he added.
After the legendary baseball player Aron's death, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said that this is a "teaching moment" for the public health experts to use facts to reduce the fear about vaccines among the people. According to him in a program where millions of older people, as well as those with serious health conditions, are being vaccinated, some individuals would die due to heart attack, stroke and other causes that have no relation with a vaccine.
"We have to have the public understand that all of these events in life occur on a routine basis. And that, coincidentally, they're going to occur in the same time period that a vaccine would occur...And they have nothing to do with the vaccination," he added.