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‘Died Suddenly’? More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines


‘Died Suddenly’? More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines


January 3, 2023: Nearly half of Americans think COVID-19 vaccines may be to blame for many unexplained deaths, and more than a quarter say someone they know could be among the victims.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that (49%) of American Adults believe it is likely that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths, including 28% who think it’s Very Likely. Thirty-seven percent (37%) don’t say a significant number of deaths have been caused by vaccine side effects, including 17% who believe it’s Not At All Likely. Another 14% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Twenty-eight percent (28%) of adults say they personally know someone whose death they think may have been caused by side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, while 61% don’t and another 10% are not sure.

The documentary Died Suddenly has been criticized as promoting “debunked” anti-vaccine conspiracy theories but has been seen by some 15 million people. Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans believe there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while 37% think people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories. Another 15% are not sure. The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on December 28-30, 2022 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Seventy-one percent (71%) say they have received a COVID-19 vaccination, while 26% have not. Concerns about vaccine safety are much higher among the unvaccinated.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of adults who have not gotten COVID-19 vaccinations believe it’s at least somewhat likely that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths. Among those who have gotten the vaccine, just 38% consider unexplained deaths from the vaccine at least somewhat likely.

Similarly, while 45% of those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 think someone they know personally might have died from vaccine side effects, only 22% of vaccinated adults think so.

Forty-six percent (46%) of adults who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 believe people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories, but just 15% of the unvaccinated share that belief. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of those who haven’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, as do 40% of those who have gotten vaccinated against the virus.

More Democrats (85%) than Republicans (63%) or those not affiliated with either major party (64%) have been vaccinated against COVID-19. More Republicans (60%) than Democrats (44%) or the unaffiliated (43%) think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there is less political difference in the number who suspect someone they know might have died from vaccine side effects – 33% of Democrats and 26% of both Republicans and the unaffiliated. Forty-six percent (46%) of whites, 48% of blacks and 57% of other minorities believe it is at least somewhat likely that side effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused a significant number of unexplained deaths.

Younger Americans are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and 35% of adults under 40 believe someone they know personally might have died from vaccine side effects, compared to 28% of those 40-64 and just 14% of Americans 65 and older.

Slightly more men (52%) than women (47%) think it is at least somewhat likely that a significant number of unexplained deaths may have been caused by side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

Married adults are more likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than their unmarried peers, but more married (33%) than unmarried (23%) Americans think someone they know personally might have died from vaccine side effects.

Voters with annual incomes below $30,000 are most likely to think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while those with incomes above $200,000 are most likely to believe people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories.

A majority of Americans think COVID-19 vaccines are effective, but have concerns about side effects. Although few Americans think 2022 was one of the best years ever, they rated it better than last year, and they have higher expectations for 2023.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to the public as well as to Platinum Members.

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