Coronavirus vaccines are very effective and the risk of an adverse reaction is rare

Colorado vaccination site closes early after 11 people 'expected' adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccine, officials say

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But some developments have dampened the excitement: This week, a few vaccination sites across the United States suspended operations after some patients reported adverse effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine has also been linked to blood clots in four people who received the vaccine. One of the cases was fatal, European health authorities confirmed.

The incidents of ‘breakthrough infections’ have also raised concerns: A few people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have still been infected with the virus and, in some cases, have died.

Both issues raise valid concerns, said Dr William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. But the risks of getting vaccinated – serious reactions remain incredibly rare – far outweigh the risks of infection with Covid-19, he said.

Health experts in the United States and elsewhere agree: The three Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States continue to be safe and highly effective in preventing infection with Covid-19.
Moderna and Pfizer, which in clinical trials have been shown to be between 94% and 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection, were recently studied under “real world conditions” after their approval in the United States and in other countries. other countries. A report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that followed fully vaccinated health workers found that both vaccines were 90% effective at preventing infections.

But 90% is not 100%, so ‘breakthrough infections’, or cases of Covid-19 that occur in fully vaccinated people, are to be expected and do not mean vaccines are less effective, said Dr Anthony Fauci during a White House Briefing Friday.

“This number of individuals who have been infected with breakthroughs is not at all incompatible with a vaccine efficacy of over 90%. So I don’t think there is any need to worry about a change or a change in the effectiveness of the vaccine, ”Fauci said in response to a question from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

Johnson & Johnson is not a ‘second class’ vaccine

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was linked to four cases of blood clots, one in a clinical trial and the other three when the vaccine was rolled out in the United States, the European Medicines Agency confirmed on Friday. In one of the cases, the person died.

This week, vaccination sites in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina suspended vaccinations after a few people reported adverse effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In Colorado, two of 11 people who complained of nausea and dizziness were taken to hospital for evaluation but were released without hospitalization, health care provider Centura Health told CNN on Friday. The other nine people recovered with juice and water.

In a statement released Friday, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told CNN: “The CDC is aware of several incidents of vaccinated subjects showing lightheadedness, lightheadedness, fainting sensation, rapid breathing and sweating (vasovagal or anxious) after COVID-19. vaccines in Iowa, Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina. ”

Colorado vaccination site closes early after 11 people 'expected' adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccine, officials say

For now, the CDC and the FDA “are not recommending that health services stop administering batches of COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement said. “The CDC performed batch analyzes of the vaccine and found no cause for concern. “

CDC officials take reports of adverse events seriously and “constantly analyze” the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, Schaffner said. Even given these reports of adverse reactions, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still considered a safe and important tool in the fight against Covid-19.

Health experts are also concerned about the stigma that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a lesser vaccine than offers from Moderna and Pfizer. Trials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have shown it to be 66% effective in preventing moderate to severe disease compared to the 90% effectiveness of Moderna and Pfizer.

But Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is not a “second-class” vaccine, Schaffner said. It was evaluated under different circumstances – it was tested later in 2020 than the other two, and one of its main testing sites was South Africa, where a highly contagious variant began to dominate. The vaccine was found to be effective in preventing serious illness there, and no patient who received the vaccine was hospitalized or died.

Why some vaccinated people still get sick and even die

In Friday’s briefing, Fauci noted that the few deaths seen among the more than 200 breakthrough infections were mostly in the elderly. It’s not unexpected, he said.

Seniors are more likely than the rest of the population to have underlying conditions. The elderly were also among the first to be vaccinated, in addition to healthcare workers, Schaffner noted.

Severe reactions to the vaccine, seen here administered to two women in Louisville, Kentucky, remain very rare.  Side effects like pain in the arms, fatigue and nausea are more common.Severe reactions to the vaccine, seen here administered to two women in Louisville, Kentucky, remain very rare.  Side effects like pain in the arms, fatigue and nausea are more common.

Schaffner noted that fully vaccinated older people are already at increased risk of death due to their age and medical condition.

“These are populations that get richer from people with underlying diseases,” he said. “We know that day to day adverse events in this population are going to occur. ”

To determine whether the vaccine directly causes adverse effects, health experts at CDC and other agencies compare vaccinated people with unvaccinated people of the same demographics to determine if adverse events occur more frequently in the vaccinated group. . If they occur at similar rates, Schaffner said, the adverse events are likely unrelated to the vaccine.

Side effects are not uncommon, but severe reactions are

Minor side effects after receiving a vaccine are not uncommon. In the case of Covid-19 vaccines, an estimated 10% to 15% of volunteers participating in clinical trials developed noticeable side effects, a former Operation Warp Speed ​​official said late last year. .

The most common complaints about the Covid-19 vaccine include arm pain, fatigue, body aches, and in some cases, a mild fever. Nausea, like the 11 Colorado patients, headaches and swelling at the injection site can also occur, according to the CDC.

Don't panic if you experience these side effects from a Covid-19 vaccine.  They can actually be a good signDon't panic if you experience these side effects from a Covid-19 vaccine.  They can actually be a good sign

Serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction, are much less common, occurring about every two to five per million people, Baylor College of Medicine dean, Dr. Peter Hotez, told CNN earlier this month. this.

Serious side effects are extremely rare, but they are usually associated with vaccines, and in most cases, health agencies say the benefits outweigh the risk. Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disease that can cause muscle weakness and is thought to follow infection with a virus, occurs in about one or two cases per million flu shots. But the vaccine is still seen as an essential tool in preventing unnecessary deaths: During the 2017-18 flu season, of the approximately 45 million Americans diagnosed with the flu, about 61,000 of them died.

The risk of the Covid-19 vaccine is minimal compared to the risk of serious illness from Covid-19 itself, Schaffner said. As the number of cases rises again in the United States, even as millions of people are vaccinated, it is critically important that those who can get vaccinated do so, he said.

CNN’s Jen Christensen, Katia Hetter, Betsy Klein, Amanda Watts and Holly Yan contributed to this report.

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