UIHC Study Shows Minimum Side Effects from COVID-19 Vaccine

With some people concerned about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) released a study that showed minimum side effects experienced by the health system’s health care workers after their first and second shots.

The most common side effect following the first dose was pain at the injection site, with 77% of respondents reporting that they experienced this symptom, according to the study. Sixteen percent of health care workers reported experiencing no symptoms following their first vaccination.

As of June 4, 2021, more than 2.8 million doses have been administered in Iowa. The state ranks 11th by the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the U.S.

But as UIHC begins to see a shift in demographics receiving COVID-19 vaccines, hospital officials are pivoting to address a decline in demand. They now allow walk-ups at many of the health system’s vaccination sites, eliminating the need to schedule appointments in advance.

Moreover, UIHC is increasing efforts to inform and encourage special groups of people to get vaccinated, including people with underlying medical conditions. Most people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. And it’s important that these people get vaccinated because these and other conditions can weaken their immune system and put them at risk of getting seriously ill from the virus. UIHC has enlisted a specialty care team to develop and disseminate information for patients living with chronic illnesses or who have other special needs, and answer questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for them.

Pediatricians at the health system also are playing a key role in vaccine efforts now that the Food and Drug Administration gave approval for shots to be given to children ages 12 to 17. They are finding that many parents have questions about the vaccine’s safety when administered to kids and feel anxious about making the decision. UIHC offers a wealth of information online on why the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for this age group and how effective they are.

During a KCRG-TV interview, Melanie Wellington, M.D., an infectious disease expert from the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, part of UIHC’s network, explains that vaccinating as many people as possible is critical because, when a virus is widely circulating in a population, the likelihood of it mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more it replicates — and the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.

“Even the people who have been immunized are vulnerable from getting it from somebody else,” Wellington said. “And by immunizing everybody, we’re decreasing the chances that one person will give it to the next person, and therefore we make the chances that someone who’s vaccinated will get it is almost zero.”