Pittsburgh Doctor Discusses Safety Measures In Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout

Pittsburgh Doctor Discusses Safety Measures In Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A vaccine rollout is one step closer and could happen by the end of the year.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has met and put forth its plans for how this would work.


“It’s very unusual for the CDC to not go along with the ACIP recommendations,” says AHN primary care internal medicine physician Dr. Marc Itskowitz.


Because the vaccine is expected to be released under emergency use authorization, safety checks will be a priority.


“Even though this is a new vaccine and it’s being authorized under this emergency use, it is being closely studied,” Dr. Itskowitz says. “We’ll just have to continue to pay attention to any signals that develop in vaccine recipients.


The first people to get the vaccine will get daily emails and text messages the week following their immunization, followed by weekly check-ins for six weeks.


“I think it’s clever. I think it takes advantage of our technology,” says Dr. Itskowitz. “It may become the new standard moving forward for other vaccine trial developments.”


Recipients will be asked about injection site reactions (pain, redness, itching, swelling), physical symptoms (chills, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash), and whether they’ve missed work, gone to the doctor or couldn’t do normal activities.


Missing work or going to the doctor because of the vaccine will be classified as a clinically important adverse event.


“It doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t safe if people have to experience a few days of vaccine-related arm soreness or even have to miss work for a day or two,” Dr. Itskowitz said. “What we’re looking for is to make sure there are no serious vaccine-related events.”


The information will go to the FDA.


“If we start to see more serious reactions, those have to be reported,” Dr. Itskowitz said.


The government regulatory agency will track any problems.


“I think we’re going to start off with a really small slice of the population. We won’t get anywhere near herd immunity,” the doctor said.


The initial supply will go to 20 million Americans considered essential — health care workers, first responders, food and industry workers, and possibly teachers.


“If there’s more vaccine available, then we should open it up to the general population,” says Dr. Itskowitz. “Because ultimately, to get herd immunity, we really need everybody to get some exposure to this vaccine.”


All but one of the potential vaccines require two shots.