DHEC provides information on COVID-19 vaccine symptoms, cyberterrorism threats

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released a presentation with updated information on the COVID-19 vaccine as the state prepares to distribute the highly-anticipated vaccine.

The vaccine outline was presented on Tuesday and gives an overview of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. An FDA advisory committee is meeting Thursday to discuss the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, while the Moderna vaccine will be discussed on Thursday, Dec. 17.

In the presentation, DHEC discusses the information gathered during the vaccine trials and the symptoms that may occur with both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Both vaccines require two injections. The Pfizer second dose will need to be taken 21 days after the first injection, and the second Moderna dose will need to be taken 28 days later, according to the DHEC presentation. The two vaccines can’t mix and match. So, if a person gets the Pfizer vaccine, then they must take the Pfizer vaccine for their second dose.

It shows there were no serious adverse effects of the vaccine but noted that those who took part in the trials had more symptoms after the second dose. More than half of those who participated in the vaccine trials had “mild-moderate fatigue, chills, headache, muscle aches after second dose,” according to the presentation. They also experienced mild-moderate pain at the injection site. A small percentage also experienced severe headaches and severe fatigue after the second dose.

As for rare and long-term side effects, DHEC officials said that may not be known until millions are vaccinated.

The DHEC report also suggests that those who are employed should consider getting the vaccination when they have one to two days off after getting the vaccine, especially after the second dose.

The presentation also provides advice to healthcare professionals on discussing the facts about the vaccine.

It states that healthcare professionals should avoid the term “side effects” and instead use “temporary symptoms.”

“Explain the symptoms are a sign that the vaccine is working; the immune system is responding,” according to the report.

It also suggests that medical and frontline workers in Phase 1-A should stagger their vaccinations, and not have everyone get the vaccines during the first week in case there are some adverse effects on workers.

Once the Pfizer vaccine is authorized, it will be sent to five secure locations that are capable of storing vaccine in ultra-cold temperatures. Then from those five locations, the vaccine will be distributed to licensed COVID-19 vaccine providers.

As for where the vaccines will be stored once they are delivered to South Carolina, DHEC officials said they can’t publicly release that information due to cybersecurity threats.

“There are already threats and attempts of people trying to access the ultra-cold storage sites for cyber terrorism (sic),” the presentation warned.

DHEC officials also worry about a rush for the vaccine, which is another reason why they are not disclosing exactly where the vaccines will be held.

The presentation also addressed the safety of the vaccine with pregnant women.

It states that pregnant women were excluded from the vaccine trials. But the Society of Fetal and Maternal Medicine has recommended that healthcare workers who are in the first phase of vaccine distribution should be offered the vaccine if pregnant.

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