While all of the speakers held the vaccine in high regard, the discussion quickly focused on the importance of monitoring patients for potential adverse side-effects. According to the CDC, there have been several rare reports of anaphylaxis in patients after receiving the vaccine. Therefore, physicians have been advised to monitor their patients carefully and report any reactions they may observe.
Luckily, no attendees had seen any allergic reactions to the vaccine within their own practices. In fact, the worst adverse reaction providers administering the Pfizer vaccine had seen first-hand were fatigue, body aches and fever. Providers administering the Moderna vaccine only reported COVID-19-like immune reactions and an 8-9 day delayed injection-site reaction (red/sore arm). That being said panelists remained cognisant to the fact that very few patients had received both doses, at this time. If anaphylaxis were to occur, one panelist suggested that it would occur post 2nd dose, since the body would only then have a reference (from the first vaccine) which could trigger an immune response.
One interesting anecdote came from a panelist, who said “vaccine recipients who have had COVID-19 in the past, should take 1-2 days off of work after the 2nd dose.” According to the provider, flu-like side effects were much more prominent in people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the past. The providers also noted that reactions were more common with the 2nd dose, and usually only lasted 48h.
Issues regarding the vaccine supply-chain were also highlighted as a significant challenge. Widespread delivery delays, confusing processes and incorrect timelines seemed to be issues many of the providers were facing. However, providers were reassured that they would receive their orders in time, and were told to continue following current guidelines.
Towards the end of the session, the panelists discussed a few frequently asked questions they’d received from patients. The first question that was highlighted was: “after getting both vaccines, in the correct amount of time (and after the proper delays), will I need to isolate if I am exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19?” However, the response given was “we don’t know yet.” Due to the lack of sufficient data, it remains unknown whether those who are vaccinated could still transmit the virus, forcing providers to wait on more information from the CDC.
Another provider raised the frequently asked question of whether or not the mRNA vaccines alter DNA; however, he confirmed that mRNA doesn’t enter the cell’s nucleus, and therefore does not affect DNA.
Most specialists who spoke during the webinar said that they’d only received their first dose, and were looking forward to receiving the second. With more data coming in daily, and seeing how most of the panelists will have had their 2nd vaccine by then, the next College of Urgent Care Medicine Listserv LIVE Event should bring even more insights, as well as great first-hand information regarding post 2nd dose experiences.