Monitoring Covid-19 vaccines for safety issues will fall to a group of U.S. health agencies that also will have a hand in their rollout, a potential hurdle in persuading skeptics to get the shots, say former government officials who helped control an outbreak a decade ago.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other health agencies all have separate systems to track side effects and safety in people who get the first shots. But there are concerns the groups advising the agencies on all aspects of a vaccine may face public skepticism over their safety assessments at a time when vaccine hesitancy is a major concern.
“The same advisory committee that told them to get it are telling them it’s OK,” said Daniel Salmon, the director of vaccine safety for the National Vaccine Program Office during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak. “What are the optics of that?”
There’s also worry that a lack of unified oversight could make it more difficult to document and quickly act on safety issues. Meanwhile, the stalled presidential transition could complicate efforts even further, said Jesse Goodman, who led the FDA office that handled vaccines during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak.