Why all COVID-19 vaccine side effects are important, not just the most serious

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One of the leaders of the largest independent vaccine safety study in Canadian history says tracking mild side effects from COVID-19 vaccines is as important as recording rare serious side effects.

“It’s really important to be able to put (the side effects) in context and say, ‘How is what we see different from what we would see in the population anyway that week? “Dr Jim Kellner told Global News.

The Calgary pediatric infectious disease specialist is a co-investigator in the Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network (CANVAS) COVID-19 vaccine study.

Read more:

Mild and temporary side effects of the vaccine? It’s a sign they’re working, say experts

Although the Government of Canada system records the rare serious adverse events reported by healthcare professionals, the CANVAS study asks Canadians to report their own symptoms after each dose by completing a questionnaire.

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The researchers are also hoping that people who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine will participate for comparison.

“One of the amazing things when it comes to looking at clinical trial results is the number of people who have what we call ‘side effects’ on any given day,” Kellner said.

Kellner says the study won’t necessarily rule out specific symptoms as side effects from a vaccine, but it could help track reactions most likely to affect certain populations. In addition, self-report could reveal rare events not mentioned to physicians.





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“Someone can have an adverse event, but if they don’t show up (to a health care provider) and say they had this event, then it may not be measured.”

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Why rare blood clots could be a side effect of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Of the nearly six million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to date in Canada, 3,089 adverse events have been reported; 421 were considered serious.

This includes one case of a blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Kellner says finding such a rare side effect requires the administration of millions of doses. The more hits given beyond clinical trials, the more types of reactions will be detected.

He hopes the study can help reduce vaccine reluctance, noting that reactions occur in the first eight weeks after a vaccine.

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“The side effects of vaccines don’t first appear months or years later.”

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AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe despite ‘stronger link’ to blood clots, says Health Canada

Researchers are to investigate at least 300,000 people for each type of COVID-19 vaccine available in Canada, as well as a control group of Canadians who have not been vaccinated.

Volunteers can register online and complete a survey eight days after receiving their first dose. A second survey takes place eight days after the second dose, then a final survey will be sent six months after.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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