PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When a vaccine against the coronavirus comes out, what should you be prepared for?
“We don’t want any surprises with these vaccines,” says Noel Brewer, a professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina.
In clinical trials, 10 to 20 percent had side effects.
“They’ve noticed some side effects that are a little more than they expected,” says Kelly Stefano, AHN director of microbiology. “They’re seeing headache, low-grade fever to moderate fever of 100 to 101. They’re seeing lots of muscle aches and soreness. It’s transient for the most part. They haven’t seen any severe adverse events.”
A variety of vaccines, made in different ways by different companies, all had similar side effects.
“The components of the vaccine, in order to stimulate the immune response, are also basically causing a reaction,” Stefano said. “As far as we can tell right now, it seems to be a very safe vaccine. They actually elicited antibody responses. That suggests that it’s also an effective vaccine.”
In studies of some of the potential vaccines, researchers dropped the highest dose because of side effects. In one case, fevers sent one study participant to the hospital.
“That’s pretty much what these earlier phase trails are designed to do, to do dosing and determine what dosing is really safe and effective, yet not causing any adverse events like hospitalizations,” says Stefano.
The larger studies, soon to start, will give the bigger picture of how often side effects happen across the population.
“That really shows you statistically,” Stefano said, “because you have enough people of diverse backgrounds.”
“It will be important for us to be upfront with people about potential and real side effects of these vaccines,” Brewer said.
“I think it may be a little bit of a hard push in the beginning, but I also do believe the only way we’re going to effectively stop this is to vaccinate. We’re not seeing it really go away by itself,” says Stefano.