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CDC Tracking COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Almost 700,000 Utahns had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, but some residents were still wondering whether or not it’s safe to get a shot.

As in decades past, there has been a federal system that tracks side effects of vaccines that anyone can enter into a system. So is it efficient?

“To this date, there has been no evidence of vaccinations that have caused any deaths,” said Rich Lakin, immunization director for the Utah Department of Health.

However, adverse side effects are common.

For those experiencing more serious symptoms other than a sore arm, drowsiness or a headache — you can report it to the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS.

KSL’s Morgan Wolfe took some questions about the system to Larkin.

“Is there one specific to Utah that our state has to track any of these side effects?” KSL’s Morgan Wolfe asked.

“No, so VAERS has been around for decades,” Lakin said.

And Lakin said CDC officials follow up on serious VAERS reports and bring them to state health departments.

Five people have reported deaths after getting a COVID-19 Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in Utah. An additional 180 reports were filed from anything from soreness at the injection site to life-threatening illnesses.

“Vaccine side effects are very rare,” Lakin said. “For every 1 million MMR vaccine that goes out — there is one person per 1 million that has a severe allergic reaction.”

And Lakin said history shows vaccines save lives — referencing the measles, mumps, smallpox and polio.

Yet, Utah trends behind most states when it comes to one common vaccine  for the flu.

“We do have a lot of rural and frontier areas that don’t feel vaccinations are as important,” Lakin said. “We are also a largely conservative state and have many people with strong religious beliefs.”

“For people who don’t want to get to the vaccine because they are worried it could kill them, what’s your response to them?” Wolfe asked.

“The vaccines are safe and effective — plain and simple — and this is really how we are going to end the pandemic,” Lakin said.

If you have symptoms from the vaccine and want to report them, you can click here.

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