How to make sure the CDC knows about your COVID-19 vaccine side effects

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Summary List Placement

Roughly a third of the US population has gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The authorized shots available from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — which are being given out free of cost to all adults across the US — are both safe and effective at stopping COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death.

To build that immunity, the body has to be trained (by a vaccine) to recognize the coronavirus, in order to fight it. For some people, that process feels like nothing. But many feel some side effects in the days after their shot, as the immune system gets to work.

Common side effects include a sore or swollen arm, headache, fever, chills, fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms can last a few days after each shot. 

To get a sense of how common and long-lasting these effects can be, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a text message-based symptom tracker program called v-safe. 

I enrolled in the program after my first vaccine dose. Here’s how it works: 

If you’ve been vaccinated in the past 6 weeks, you can enroll in v-safe to report any symptoms you may have.

To register, users provide the CDC with some basic information: where and when they got their shot, their name, and their phone number. 

The agency says on its website that “your personal information in v-safe is protected so that it stays confidential and private.”

Once you’re enrolled, v-safe sends text messages, asking you to assess how you feel at different points post-vaccination.

The check-ins are daily for the first week after vaccination. After that, v-safe check-ins become weekly, for up to five more weeks.  

The texts provide a link to a short, 5-question survey. First, v-safe asks how you’re feeling overall.

The second question is a fever check.

Fever is a relatively common side effect of all three vaccines, affecting around 10% of people who get one shot of Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

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It can be more common after the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna, affecting about one in every three patients. 

Then, v-safe asks how the arm where you got your shot is feeling.

Arm pain is by far the most common vaccine side effect people report, with all three vaccines. 

Some people who’ve gotten Moderna’s shot have also complained about swelling and itchy rashes. The arm rash will usually subside after several days. 

Then it’s time to record any other symptoms you’re having.

Finally, the v-safe reporting system asks how big of an impact the vaccine side effects are having on your daily life.

And voilà! That’s how the reporting system works. If the side effects vaccine-takers report to v-safe are severe, the CDC may call to follow up.

If you’re concerned about a rare but serious adverse reaction to a vaccine, you can also report the issue directly to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

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Source:: Business Insider – Science

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