On Monday, December 14th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a webinar to provide education about the new COVID-19 vaccine. Safety monitoring is a top priority of the CDC, and the webinar largely focused on their post-authorization/post-licensure safety monitoring of the vaccine.
They provided a great explanation of why this safety monitoring matters, and advocated the use of The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS, the nation’s early warning system for vaccine safety, detects potential safety problems and can track rare adverse events, and accepts reports from anyone. V-safe was also discussed, which is a new smart-phone based monitoring program from the CDC that tracks COVID-19 safety. This program uses text messaging and web surveys to check in with vaccine recipients, and participants can use it to report side effects as well as receive direct follow up from the CDC if significant health impacts are reported. Healthcare providers were asked to help the CDC with getting as many people to participate in this program as possible, and offered resources and fact sheets which can be accessed below.
This webinar also addressed the symptoms that have been reported as a result of the vaccine, often similar to symptoms that appear from COVID-19. Healthcare professionals should consider getting the vaccination preceding scheduled time off work so their vaccine symptoms are not confused with COVID-19 infection, and facilities should consider staggering the delivery of the vaccine so not all staff members are vaccinated at the same time. Please view the below slides to read how to determine if post-vaccination symptoms are from the vaccine itself, a preexisting COVID-19 infection, or another type of infection.
Guidance was also given regarding long term care residents experiencing symptoms following COVID-19 vaccination. There will have to be a balance between unnecessary testing and implementation of transmission-based precautions for residents showing symptoms of infection, and inadvertently allowing infections residents to expose others in the facility if their symptoms are assumed to be from the vaccine. Please refer to the below slides for suggested approaches to evaluating and managing new onset post-vaccination signs and symptoms your residents may experience.