Database tracking side effects to COVID-19 vaccine

VIDEO: Database tracking side effects to COVID-19 vaccine

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - If you think you have had a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, hospitals in the Lowcountry say reporting this to a national website is vital for health officials.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available under an Emergency Use Authorization, and doctors and scientists are still learning about the vaccine.

This is why all major hospitals in our area, including Trident Medical Center, Roper St. Francis, and MUSC, are recommending people use a website called called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Through VAERS people can report side effects following the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Kenneth Perry the Assistant Medical Director of Trident, the data allows the CDC and FDA to try to find risk patterns and make adjustments like with the recent pause of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which has now been lifted.

“Were all learning, so no one at this point knows,” Perry said. “So it’s an appropriate time to have that conversation.”

For serious side effects, doctors and the CDC recommend you visit your primary care physician. But reporting all side effects to VAERS, even up to 6 weeks after receiving the vaccine can be helpful to officials both on a national level as well as a local level.

“We want the data to be there so that way public health officials can give physicians like myself and other physicians at Trident hospital the recommendation to help people,” Perry said. “So we need all the data necessary and then we can sort of parse it out at the statistical level and figure out if certain symptoms are significant or not, and what we need to do with them.”

There is a lot data on the website, but John Fowler, the Pharmacy Manager at Roper Hospital, says knowing how to read that data is key.

“What seems like a very rare condition, and it may seem like it’s linked to the vaccine, but you have to take into account what is the incident of that in the general population and if that’s also very rare. It’s just so hard to tease out, is it even related to the vaccine,” Fowler said. “Somebody could get the vaccine and they could die in a car wreck, and we’d still have to report that as a death and it could get attributed to the vaccine.”

Fowler adds that false reporting in unlikely.

“Reports are actually screened, so I feel confident in the data that’s there,” he said.

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