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Elliott | Nursing & Rehabilitation

How Long-Term Care Facilities Can Help Monitor COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

October 8, 2021

What Long-Term Care Facility Administrators Should Know

Staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are among the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. As an administrator, your and your staff’s participation in vaccine safety monitoring is essential to ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. No safety concerns have been detected to date, but ongoing monitoring will continue. The CDC has expanded safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as by scaling up existing safety monitoring systems.

What is V-Safe?

V-safe is a new smartphone-based tool that helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through the use of text messaging and web surveys. These health check-ins inform CDC how the participant is feeling after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on the answers, someone from CDC may call to check on the participant and get more information. V-safe will also remind the participant to get a second dose of the vaccine if they need one. V-safe enrollment and check-ins are quick and easy and can be done on a smartphone. V-safe cannot schedule vaccination appointments. If a participant needs to schedule, reschedule, or cancel a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, they should contact either the location that set up their appointment or local vaccination provider.

  • All long-term care staff members who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are encouraged to enroll in V-safe.
  • Long-term care residents can also enroll in V-safe. Healthcare providers and caregivers may assist residents with enrolling. However, providers or caregivers should not complete check-ins for residents.
  • At this time, only people with smartphones will be able to participate in V-safe monitoring. Long-term care residents may be less likely to have access to a smartphone and, therefore, may not be able to report side effects or adverse events through V-safe. Long-term care staff should monitor recently vaccinated residents for any potential adverse events and report those events to VAERS.

What is VAERS?

VAERS is a national vaccine safety monitoring system that helps CDC and the FDA monitor health problems after vaccination. VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine a health problem but is especially useful for detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine. Residents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and nursing home staff can report medical events or health problems following vaccinations to VAERS, even if they aren’t sure the vaccine was the cause.

  • Anyone can report health problems that happen after vaccination to VAERS.
  • In general, report any medical event or health problem after COVID-19 vaccination that is concerning to you, your staff, or your residents.
  • It is especially important to report any problem that results in hospitalization, significant disability, or death.
  • VAERS does NOT provide treatment or medical advice. If a vaccine recipient needs medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to report to VAERS any adverse event they think is medically important or clinically significant, even if they think the event might not be related to the vaccine. However, healthcare providers are required to report to VAERS the following adverse events, in accordance with the emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Vaccine administration errors, whether or not associated with an adverse event
  • Serious adverse events (as defined by federal law), regardless of causality, including:
    • Death
    • A life-threatening event
    • Inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization
    • Persistent or significant incapacity or substantial disruption of the ability to conduct normal life functions
    • Congenital anomaly/birth defect
    • An important medical event that based on appropriate medical judgement may jeopardize the individual and may require medical or surgical intervention to prevent one of the outcomes listed above
    • Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C or MIS-A)
    • Cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death

To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/ltcf-help-monitor-covid-19-vaccine-safety-508.pdf