No available evidence that vaccines caused teen deaths

3 December 2021
What was claimed

The sudden deaths of 10 teenagers may be linked to Covid-19 vaccines.

Our verdict

There is no available evidence that shows vaccines were responsible for any of these deaths.

A Facebook post suggests the tragic deaths of 10 teenagers and young adults may have been caused by Covid-19 vaccines.

The post includes an image that compiles headlines from reports of these deaths.

Text next to the image states: “Thinking of getting your booster? Type 'suddenly died' into Google… throw in ‘2021’ too.” It then adds “While your [sic] there take a look at the yellow card scheme on the government website”.

While the post does not explicitly state that vaccines caused these deaths, a headline (“Deaths among teenagers have increased by 47% since they started getting the Covid vaccine”) at the bottom right of the image suggests this. 

There is no evidence these deaths were caused by Covid-19 vaccines. Furthermore, the article referenced in the bottom right of the image is also misleading.

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No available evidence the deaths were caused by vaccines 

In total, 10 people are referred to in the Facebook post. None of the news reports surrounding their deaths, including those featured in the Facebook image, suggest vaccines played a role in the sad events.

Gemma Caffrey, 12, from Lanarkshire, died from a brain haemorrhage on 25 October 2021. The cause of her death was reported and can be seen in the Facebook post. There is no available evidence that suggests her death was caused by a Covid-19 vaccine.

Adam Ali, 17, from the West Midlands, died on 19 September 2021. Adam had not been vaccinated, as previously confirmed to Full Fact by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. We have also written about misleading information related to Adam’s death.

Harry Towers and Mohammed Habib, who studied at St John Fisher Catholic College in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, died on 30 October 2021 and 24 October 2021 respectively. The Coroner’s Office in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire has confirmed to Full Fact the investigation into Harry Tower’s death is ongoing, as a cause of death has not yet been provided. It also confirmed that the coroner was satisfied the cause of Mohammed Habib’s death was natural (cerebral oedema, stroke and Covid-19) and no further investigation was required. 

Tyrese Matswayi, 16, from Tunstall, Staffordshire, died on 6 October 2021. His death was not caused by a vaccine.

The three high school athletes referred to in the Facebook post died from cardiac arrest several years before the pandemic. The mothers of Indiana 17-year-olds Zac Mago, Jake West and Mark Mayfield have campaigned for greater awareness of sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes.

Max Carswell, 18, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, died in October 2020, before the vaccine roll out started, after going into a diabetic ketoacidosis coma. His family have also campaigned to raise awareness of Max’s condition.

Leo McBride, 18, from Ballymoney, County Antrim, died on 24 October 2021. There is no suggestion or evidence his death was caused by a Covid-19 vaccine. The Northern Ireland Royal Courts of Justice told Full Fact “The Coroner’s investigation into this case is ongoing and it is not appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

No evidence that vaccines caused a 47% rise in teenage deaths

The Facebook post also refers to this article by The Exposé which claims that teenage deaths rose by 47% since vaccines were rolled out to the majority of young people aged 16 to 17 (the article was written before the rollout of vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds in October). 

The article refers to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which correctly shows that death registrations were 47% higher between 19 June to 17 September 2021 among 15 to 19-year-olds in England and Wales compared to roughly the same period and age group in 2020.

However, the article acknowledges that “correlation doesn’t equal causation” and provides no other evidence that confirms a link between an increase of deaths among teenagers and the use of vaccines.

The ONS has said that 2020 is not a normal year to compare 2021 with, because there was a lower than normal number of deaths among teenagers during 2020. It said that this was expected given that various lockdown restrictions were in place and a leading cause of adolescent deaths in the UK are due to accidents, which may have fallen during the lockdowns. There have also been delays to coroners’ investigations, reducing how many deaths could be registered.

Yellow Card Scheme does not state claims about teenage deaths

The Facebook post also refers to the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) Yellow Card Scheme which gathers and assesses reports of side effects which follow the use of medicines including vaccines.

The MHRA has so far received 395,049 reports of side effects after vaccination with a Covid-19 vaccine, which include 1,815 reports of someone dying shortly after vaccination. 

The MHRA states: “The majority of these reports (of deaths) were in elderly people or people with underlying illness. 

“Usage of the vaccines has increased over the course of the campaigns and as such, so has reporting of fatal events with a temporal association with vaccination.

“However, this does not mean that there is a link between vaccination and the fatalities reported.”

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