U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are aware of reports of long-lasting problems following COVID-19 vaccination, an official recently disclosed.
“With respect to reports of people experiencing debilitating illnesses, we are aware of these reports of people experiencing long-lasting health problems following COVID vaccination,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office, said on Jan. 26.
“In some cases, the clinical presentation of people suffering these health problems is variable and no specific medical cause for the symptoms have been found,” Shimabukuro added. “We understand that illness is disruptive and stressful, especially under those circumstances. And we acknowledge these health problems have substantially impacted the quality of life for people and have also affected those around them. And we hope for improvement and recovery, and we will continue to monitor the safety of these vaccines and work with partners to try to better understand these types of adverse events.”
Shimabukuro was speaking during a Jan. 26 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting that discussed COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Hayley Gans, a pediatrics professor at Stanford University Medical Center, had asked how federal authorities were tracking problems that have cropped up after vaccination and might not be “amenable” to rapid cycle analysis, or one way of monitoring vaccine safety.
Shimabukuro noted that any person, including health care workers, can submit reports of adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which the CDC manages, “and we accept all those reports without judging the clinical seriousness or how plausible the adverse event may be with respect to causation.” Other systems also monitor safety beyond the rapid analysis, he added.
“We take vaccine safety very seriously,” Shimabukuro said.
Shimabukuro’s comments are unusual among federal officials, who have been reluctant to connect adverse events with the COVID-19 vaccines.
Brianne Dressen, who was injured by AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, said that the response was welcome but wondered whether it was enough.