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How are vaccines studied for long-term side effects?

This article was published on
February 4, 2021

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After vaccines are approved for use they are monitored closely by national and international health and medicine regulators. Studying long-term effects of vaccines helps health authorities ensure that protection from taking a vaccine outweighs risks. The United States uses several reporting mechanisms for monitoring long-term vaccine side effects. They include: - Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which works as an early warning system to detect possible safety issues with vaccines by collecting information about possible side effects or health problems that occur after vaccination - The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) which helps discover if possible side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination - The Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring (PRISM) system which is the largest vaccine safety surveillance system in the United States and actively monitors a subset of the general population for vaccine impacts - The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project which works alongside health systems to consistently monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines throughout large populations Additionally, the U.S. CDC unveiled V-safe in response to COVID-19. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Using V-safe allows vaccine recipients to quickly tell the CDC if they are experiencing any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on which side effects people are experience, someone from the CDC may call to check on them and get more information.  Monitoring vaccines and reporting any side effects to local and national health agencies is an important part of the vaccine process. Any reports of a potential side effect from a vaccine can lead to health officials issuing new recommendations or warnings, restricting the vaccine, or even recalling it if necessary (but very few vaccines have even been recalled). Though safety and efficacy data are intensely reviewed before vaccines are approved for usage, constant monitoring of their side effects is a necessary step in ensuring the public's safety.

After vaccines are approved for use they are monitored closely by national and international health and medicine regulators. Studying long-term effects of vaccines helps health authorities ensure that protection from taking a vaccine outweighs risks. The United States uses several reporting mechanisms for monitoring long-term vaccine side effects. They include: - Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which works as an early warning system to detect possible safety issues with vaccines by collecting information about possible side effects or health problems that occur after vaccination - The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) which helps discover if possible side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination - The Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring (PRISM) system which is the largest vaccine safety surveillance system in the United States and actively monitors a subset of the general population for vaccine impacts - The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project which works alongside health systems to consistently monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines throughout large populations Additionally, the U.S. CDC unveiled V-safe in response to COVID-19. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Using V-safe allows vaccine recipients to quickly tell the CDC if they are experiencing any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on which side effects people are experience, someone from the CDC may call to check on them and get more information.  Monitoring vaccines and reporting any side effects to local and national health agencies is an important part of the vaccine process. Any reports of a potential side effect from a vaccine can lead to health officials issuing new recommendations or warnings, restricting the vaccine, or even recalling it if necessary (but very few vaccines have even been recalled). Though safety and efficacy data are intensely reviewed before vaccines are approved for usage, constant monitoring of their side effects is a necessary step in ensuring the public's safety.

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What our experts say

After vaccines are approved for use they are monitored closely by national and international health and medicine regulators. Studying long-term effects of vaccines helps health authorities ensure that protection from taking a vaccine outweighs risks.

The United States uses several reporting mechanisms for monitoring long-term vaccine side effects. They include:

  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which works as an early warning system to detect possible safety issues with vaccines by collecting information about possible side effects or health problems that occur after vaccination
  • The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) which helps discover if possible side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination
  • The Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring (PRISM) system which is the largest vaccine safety surveillance system in the United States and actively monitors a subset of the general population for vaccine impacts
  • The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project which works alongside health systems to consistently monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines throughout large populations

Additionally, the U.S. CDC unveiled V-safe in response to COVID-19. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Using V-safe allows vaccine recipients to quickly tell the CDC if they are experiencing any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on which side effects people are experience, someone from the CDC may call to check on them and get more information. 

Monitoring vaccines and reporting any side effects to local and national health agencies is an important part of the vaccine process. Any reports of a potential side effect from a vaccine can lead to health officials issuing new recommendations or warnings, restricting the vaccine, or even recalling it if necessary (but very few vaccines have even been recalled).

Though safety and efficacy data are intensely reviewed before vaccines are approved for usage, constant monitoring of their side effects is a necessary step in ensuring the public's safety.

Context and background

As populations begin to be vaccinated for COVID-19, regulators will continue monitoring and evaluating, so that health agencies can act quickly if adverse or unexpected side effects occur. While most vaccine side effects have been well documented so far, more long-term studies are needed to determine the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on a variety of people over the next few years.

Resources

  1. Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines in the United States (U.S. CDC)
  2. V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker (U.S. CDC)
  3. To Guarantee Safety Of Covid-19 Vaccines, Prioritize Long-Term Studies (Forbes)
  4. What Are The Long-Term Safety Risks Of The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines? (Forbes)
  5. Covid-19 vaccines are safe. But let’s be clear about what ‘safe’ means (STAT)
  6. Public needs to prep for vaccine side effects (Science)
  7. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) (U.S. CDC)

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