USA TODAY US Edition

Daily texts to check on vac­cine re­cip­i­ents

- Elizabeth Weise Health · Medical Activism · Anti-Vaccers · Medicine · Vaccines · Alternative Medicine · Medical Treatments · United States of America · U.S. Centers for Disease Control · U.S. Food and Drug Administration · Tom Prichard

As the United States gears up for a mas­sive im­mu­niza­tion ef­fort to be­gin as soon as a coro­n­avirus vac­cine is avail­able, health of­fi­cials are plan­ning the de­tails of the roll­out.

While all new vac­cines are closely fol­lowed once they en­ter the mar­ket, be­cause a COVID-19 vac­cine is likely to be re­leased un­der an Emer­gency Use Au­tho­riza­tion, safety con­sid­er­a­tions are front and cen­ter.

To track re­ac­tions in real time, the first peo­ple to be vac­ci­nated against COVID-19 will get daily email and text mes­sages the first week af­ter their shot ask­ing how they’re feel­ing. Af­ter that first week, they’ll con­tinue to get weekly mes­sages for the next month and a half.

The first wave of im­mu­niza­tions are ex­pected to go to up to 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans clas­si­fied as es­sen­tial work­ers. These in­clude front-line health care work­ers, po­lice, fire­fight­ers and paramedics, crit­i­cal food and in­dus­try work­ers and po­ten­tially teach­ers. At least one of sev­eral can­di­date vac­cines may be avail­able by the end of the year.

The emails and texts will come from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, said Dr. Tom Shimabukur­o of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vac­cine Plan­ning Unit. He spoke at a meet­ing Tues­day of the CDC’s Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Im­mu­niza­tion Prac­tices.

The first texts will ask these ques­tions:

Any pain, red­ness, swelling or itch­ing at the in­jec­tion site?

Any chills, headaches, joint pains, mus­cle or body aches, fa­tigue or tired­ness, nau­sea, vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea, ab­dom­i­nal pain or rash?

Any other symp­toms or health con­di­tions to re­port?

Did any of the symp­toms cause them to: Miss work? Be un­able to do their nor­mal daily ac­tiv­i­ties? Get care from a doc­tor or other health care pro­fes­sional?

“We’ll also give them the op­por­tu­nity to opt back in even if they’ve opted out.”

Dr. Tom Shimabukur­o, of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vac­cine Plan­ning Unit

Any­one who says they couldn’t work, do their daily ac­tiv­i­ties or needed to go to the doc­tor will au­to­mat­i­cally be con­sid­ered to have had a “clin­i­cally im­por­tant ad­verse event” and would get a call from the CDC’s vac­cine call cen­ter, Shimabukur­o said.

That in­for­ma­tion will be shared with the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to track any prob­lems the vac­cine might be caus­ing. Be­cause vac­cine is ex­pected to be in short sup­ply in the first phase of dis­tri­bu­tion, the lim­ited group of es­sen­tial work­ers will have to sign up in ad­vance to get their shot or shots. All but one of the cur­rent COVID-19 vac­cine can­di­dates re­quires two shots, so re­minders for the sec­ond shot will be needed.

Any­one who gets the COVID-19 vac­cine will have to sign agree­ments with their health care provider so they can get up­dates on fol­low-up vac­ci­na­tions and other in­for­ma­tion. That will in­clude their email ad­dress or cell­phone num­ber, which will be used to con­tact them for the ad­verse event re­port­ing sys­tem.

“We’re ba­si­cally bor­row­ing part of the in­for­ma­tion be­ing col­lected as part of the reg­is­tra­tion process and that’s to iden­tify these es­sen­tial work­ers for sched­ul­ing and re­minder re­calls (for their sec­ond shot),” Shimabukur­o said.

Pa­tients will be in­formed that their con­tact in­for­ma­tion will be used for do­ing out­reach from the CDC for the health checks, he said. They’ll also have the op­tion to opt out of get­ting the fol­low-up health checks.

“We’ll also give them the op­por­tu­nity to opt back in even if they’ve opted out,” he added.

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