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Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines show no safety concerns during first month of rollout, CDC says

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No concerning safety issues were associated with either the Pfizer and BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines during the first month of rollouts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Friday. No deaths were attributed to the vaccines either, the health agency noted.

The report, which included data from the first vaccines administered on Dec. 11 through Jan.13, 2021, found the most common symptoms associated with the jabs to be headache, fatigue and dizziness. While 113 deaths were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, none of the data suggested a relationship to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The agency did note “rare cases” of anaphylaxis among both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients, but that it was not outside of the range of those seen with other vaccines. 

“The occurrence of anaphylaxis after receipt of COVID-19 vaccines during the analytic period, 4.5 cases per million doses administered, is within the range reported after receipt of inactivated influenza vaccine (1.4 per million), pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (2.5 per million), and live attenuated herpes zoster vaccine (9.6 per million); effective treatments for anaphylaxis exist (6),” the report said. 

The agency also said adverse reactions to the Pfizer vaccine were more frequently reported after receiving the second dose than the first, but that information pertaining to Moderna’s second dose was not yet available due to dosing intervals. 

“The initial postauthroziation safety profiles of the two COVID-19 vaccines in current use did not indicate evidence of unexpected serious adverse events,” the report said. “These data provide reassurance and helpful information regarding what health care providers and vaccine recipients might expect after vaccination.”

In the approximately 30 days of monitoring, over 13.7 million doses were administered. Across the U.S., the rollout saw a rocky start, with confusion over scheduling, supply constraints and concern over wasted doses.

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Supply continues to be a concern among states, with the U.S. currently averaging about 1.7 million doses administered per day but people continuing to see long wait times or appointments canceled. On Friday, the White House noted that winter storms had impacted shipping of incoming supply to each of the 50 states, and that about 6 million doses were being held up. Andy Slavitt, White House COVID-19 advisor, said he expects the delayed supply to catch up within the coming days. 

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