The optimism about the delivery of a coronavirus vaccine comes with a tinge of pessimism that the vaccine could produce unpleasant side effects that would sound like a long-winded pharmaceutical commercial of disclaimers.
Doctors meeting virtually for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices urged that government health administrators and drug companies should be open about what side effects could occur for people taking the first of two coronavirus vaccine doses.
The committee, a group of medical experts that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, met as Pfizer is in the process of applying for emergency use of a vaccine that proved 95% effective in final trials. Moderna also has progressed on a vaccine with 94.5% efficacy in early trials.
“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” committee liaison Sandra Fryhofer, M.D., of the American Medical Association said in the meeting. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”
Vaccine trial participants with both companies told CNBC in September that they experienced high fever, body aches, headaches, exhaustion and other symptoms. Most went away quickly, with Pfizer and Moderna stating that side effects of aches, pains and chills similar to mild cases of COVID-19 could occur.
“If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up,” one 50-something North Carolina woman from the Moderna study told CNBC. “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure.”
Some high-priority Americans could get the vaccine in about a month … and get a headache in a month and a day.