The first vaccines for Covid-19 have been released in the United States. But the news of the vaccines, in addition to the excitement it caused at the beginning, has also caused concern. Billions of dollars were given to create them, but no money was given to prepare / inform the population about vaccines.
This can prove to be a big mistake. Documentation provided by Pfizer and Moderna to the Food and Drug Administration notes that both vaccines have side effects - perhaps the side effects disappear after about two days, but occurred in significant proportions of individuals during the trials - and some serious reactions have been reported. The descriptions of these unwanted actions begin to circulate, either through the news or through social media.
These descriptions reach the audience in the absence of any effort for addressing their. So far there has been no coordinated national campaign to reassure people that the vaccine not only works, but is safe and will not cause any long-term illness. Health researchers are concerned that the campaign is too late to begin.
This is a reasonable concern, for two reasons. First, the fear of side effects proves to be one of the main reasons why people question these vaccines. And second, distrust opens the door not only to confusion but also to misinformation. Both reasons will prevent people from getting the vaccine they need.
The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation is conducting a study of 1.600 people aged 18 and over, which began this week to provide a continuous measurement of common sense about vaccines. Research reveals that people are more positive about getting the vaccine than they were earlier in the year. In November, 71% of respondents said they were likely to get the vaccine, up from 63% in a September survey. For those who are hesitant, the main concern is the fear of side effects.
The thing is, the side effects are real. Although the Pfizer vaccine received emergency authorization only last weekend, and Moderna has not yet been approved, tens of thousands of people received it during the year in clinical trials. In the news accounts and in SOCIAL MEDIA, participants have described experiencing "a severe hangover", "fever π fatigue and chills", "complete Covid-19 symptoms".
These publications are identical to the companies' reports on side effects. According to information documents, her vaccine Pfizer caused fatigue in 59,4% of test participants after their second dose, headaches in 51,7%, muscle pain in 37,3%, joint pain in 21,9%, chills in 35,1% and fever in 15,8%. The numbers for the Moderna vaccine released on Tuesday are similar: fatigue in 68,5% of recipients, headache in 63%, pain in 59,6%, chills in 43,4%, and fever in 15,6, XNUMX%.
These reactions are not mild for the people who experience them, but they pass quickly. Very few serious adverse events have been reported. In the United Kingdom, two vaccine recipients who had already had severe allergies had anaphylactic reactions to their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine but recovered. On Tuesday, a healthcare worker in Alaska who had just been vaccinated also had an allergic reaction and was hospitalized, according to The New York Times. During the trials, four American recipients of the Pfizer vaccine and three of the Moderna vaccine developed Bell's palsy, which is a nerve palsy on one side of the face that can last several weeks. But FDA officials told JAMA this week that the number of cases corresponds to the history of the disorder in the entire population - about 30 people in 100.000 each year - and was not caused by the vaccine.
Having a moderate reaction to a vaccine is normal, it is a sign of the immune system. But people misinterpret this reaction even with well-known, well-thought-out vaccines: Some people who get the flu vaccine think that their flu vaccine carries them, but obviously this is not the case. They just have some symptoms from their immune system.
Of course the challenge is logical since the vaccines are very new. No volunteer recipient of the vaccine has monitored more than a few months and while the number of people who received the vaccine was significant, it is still a small fraction of the population. It is possible that a side effect that occurs once in a million doses may occur at some point after millions of doses have been given. This was the case during the 1976 swine flu vaccination campaign, in which more than 500 people in the United States became Guillain-Barré paralyzed, and the 1 H1N2009 swine flu pandemic, in which a small number of children in Scandinavia who received the flu vaccine ended up with narcolepsy. Given these episodes that are still remembered, health officials may not want to commit with assurances of new vaccines for COVID-19.
People who are reluctant to get vaccinated are of course not a new problem, and social science has been studying reluctance for years. The factors that enhance reluctance seem to be many.
However, this particular fear of side effects has not been explored as well as some other motivations, says Sema Sgaier, co-founder and CEO of Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit that applies data science to public health issues. "There will be an opportunity here to try different messages and see how we can alleviate these concerns," he said.
Meanwhile, the misinformation about COVID-19 holds up well. Two weeks ago, the BBC compiled some of the most shocking allegations - that the vaccine contains microchips or fetal tissue or will change the body's DNA.
Source of information: wired.com