COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
Are There Safety Concerns Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination?
COVID-19 is a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease, especially in the elderly and persons with certain underlying medical conditions. Its unexpected emergence early in 2020 called for an unprecedented effort to develop vaccines and other medical treatments in shortened timeframes. While this effort is now coming to fruition, it is understandable that the public has questions about the new vaccines.
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe?
Enough time has elapsed since the inception of the COVID-19 vaccination initiative to evaluate its safety under real-world conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 606 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were provided to Americans between December 14, 2020 and August 10, 2022. The vast majority of recipients experienced no side effects from the vaccine or only minor side effects that went away after a few days. More serious complications were extremely rare. This is important evidence that, to date, the COVID-19 vaccines are proving safe.
How Do Public Health Agencies Ensure Vaccination Safety?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers a drug-evaluation system that supports the safety and quality of any medications released for use in the U.S., including the COVID-19 vaccine. This system includes:
- Clinical trials: Drugs are initially evaluated for safety and effectiveness in rigorous clinical trials. New medications are utilized with volunteer patients, who are closely monitored for their progress and reactions. Favorable data from clinical trials, including minimal side effects, are critical to FDA approval of any drug for general use. Any potential COVID-19 vaccine must successfully meet clinical-trial standards.
- Existing safety monitoring systems: The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to monitor the safety and efficacy of drugs after their release. For example, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) tracks reports of unexpected adverse reactions to approved medications, to determine possible causes for concern.
- Expanded safety monitoring systems: Additional monitoring systems have been put into place specifically for the COVID-19 vaccines. One of these is a smartphone app called V-safe, which links vaccine recipients directly to the CDC, allowing them to share data and communicate concerns regarding their experience.
The FDA’s drug-evaluation system is being comprehensively applied to the development, approval, and distribution of all COVID-19 vaccines.
Are Healthcare Workers Trained to Handle COVID-19 Vaccines?
Once a medication is approved for use, healthcare workers are trained to store, handle, and administer it in a safe and appropriate manner. COVID-19 vaccines are no exception. Both the CDC and the pharmaceutical firms producing the vaccines offer training materials and programs in the following areas:
- Medication storage and handling
- Vaccine administration
- Patient communication
- Specialized training for COVID-19 vaccination.
Training is also a priority at individual healthcare facilities. Baptist Health employees have received thousands of hours’ worth of training in preparation for managing the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. One area of emphasis has been in the proper handling of dry ice. This is because the Pfizer-BioNTech and other COVID-19 vaccines require storage at extremely cold temperatures, which is facilitated by the use of dry ice.
Helping End the COVID-19 Crisis
Baptist Health is actively supporting ending the COVID-19 pandemic through the administration of a safe and effective vaccination program.