‘All of them are safe’: No serious side effects detected so far in US-approved vaccines, physician says

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Gov. Tim Walz on Friday announced the state’s biggest expansion of vaccine eligibility. Starting Tuesday, Minnesotans ages 16 and up will be allowed to start scheduling appointments, which could be weeks out.

But as more people get vaccines, there is more to know about their side effects. Dr. Kevin Best, a family physician at Allina Health, says the COVID-19 vaccines are new, but the concept of inoculation has been around for centuries.

“By nature, the fact that this is a new issue and a new virus, there’s no way to have long-term studies about it," Best said. "But we do have information about lots of other vaccinations that have happened in the past. … There are some new technology in the vaccine, but at the end of the day, they stimulate your immune system to build antibodies, and that’s a mechanism that’s been used for hundreds of years."

It’s still too early to know the long-term side effects, but Best says enough people have already received the shot and there have not been any widespread reports of any consistent trends for severe side effects.

“As time goes on, we’re learning more and more about the safety, and it’s looking really reassuring that all of them are safe,” Best said.

Right now, there are three different COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S.: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked if people should consider a specific type of COVID-19 shot depending on what their pre-existing conditions might be.

“That’s a good question and the short answer is, ‘No,’” Best said. “Again, because they’re all equally effective against the most severe outcomes.”

Patients can do more research by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention WONDER database, and look at any side effects that have been reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS. They can also submit any information to VAERS if they are experiencing any adverse side effects.

Minnesotans can sign up to get vaccine updates and location information on the state’s vaccine connector website.