(ABC4) — As of Wednesday, Feb 17, 551,068 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered throughout Utah.
And as that number grows, there is the potential for researchers to learn more about how the vaccine affects people’s health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, is currently tracking any side effects of receiving the vaccine through v-safe.
V-safe is a tool that can be accessed using a smartphone and allows users to track their health following the vaccine and communicate any side effects to the CDC. Anyone who has been vaccinated within the last six weeks can participate, according to CDC.
“Once you get your COVID-19 vaccine, you can enroll in v-safe. You just use your smartphone and those places that are administering the vaccination will give you a handout to tell you how to do that,” Kayla Rypien, Early Childhood Coordinator Utah Immunization Program, explains.
“Participation is voluntary. You can opt out at any time, but what this does is you receive text messages from them in the afternoon, and they will ask you how you’re feeling. And there’s just a few pretty easy questions that you answer.”
Like Rypien explains, the app sends text messages and web surveys to check in with the user’s health following the vaccine. Users can inform the CDC about any side effects they may experience after the vaccine, and depending on the side effects, they may receive a call from CDC personnel checking on them and to gather more information.
V-safe will also send users a reminder to get the second COVID-19 vaccine dose. The app is not for rescheduling, scheduling, or canceling vaccine appointments, CDC says.
According to Rypien, if any questions arise from side effects that people experience, the app will immediately alert VAERS, which stands for Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, and is run by FDA and CDC. She says v-safe is a faster way of getting reports of adverse events to them.
“A VAERS customer service representative will contact the person and decide if a VAERS report needs to be filled out for the adverse event. So it’s just a faster way of alerting them. Anybody can report a vaccine adverse event through VAERS, but it’s a faster way of alerting VAERS because not everybody knows to do that,” she says.
A CDC handout about the online tool says that participation in v-safe helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe. Rypien says that after people receive the vaccine, if they don’t receive any information about v-safe, they should ask. They may be provided with a QR scanner so they can just bring v-safe up on their phone.
The handout states that text messages from v-safe begin arriving around 2 p.m. To opt-out, text “STOP” and to opt back in, text “START.” V-safe will send a text message every day to ask how you are doing throughout the first week following the vaccine.
Check-in messages will continue once a week for up to five weeks afterward. Questions take less than five minutes to answer. After participants receive the second dose of the vaccine, they will be prompted to begin a new check-in process to monitor side effects from the second dose. Participants can also expect to receive check-ins at the three, six, and 12-month marks following the vaccine.
Rypien says vaccine recipients have to wait 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine anyway, so that is a great time to fill out information for the app.
All personal information is protected and will be kept confidential, the handout states. Visit cdc.gov to learn how to register for v-safe.