A research project from Med Center Health, Western Kentucky University and the UK College of Medicine’s Bowling Green campus found COVID-19 vaccines were safe and closely mirrored results found in clinical trials.

The project was conducted through the Western Kentucky Heart and Lung/Med Center Health Research Foundation and surveyed nearly 5,000 people from the area who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Results not only confirmed the vaccines’ safety, but Med Center Health Vice President of Corporate Support Services Dr. Melinda Joyce said most people who were surveyed experienced no symptoms or mild symptoms.

“I think what probably stood out to me the most is that the information we have from the clinical trials was validated from the study we did here in southcentral Kentucky. We did not see anything different,” Joyce said. “There is still a concern that the vaccine came to market too quickly. So when we had the study here and it showed the same results, hopefully it brings comfort to those who were having those concerns.”

She said more than 19,000 text reminders were sent to potential respondents in the area with about 4,825 participated in the survey.

The survey also had the following conclusions:

  • individuals receiving Moderna had more symptoms than the individuals receiving Pfizer, but they were still mild.
  • most people reported side effects didn’t interfere with their daily activities and, if they did, that interference lasted about 1 to 1.5 days.
  • people overwhelmingly said they received the vaccine to protect themselves and others.

The survey also found people who had been COVID positive before vaccination tended to have more side effects with the first dose, but the side effects were still minimal.

Joyce said that result was expected due to COVID-19 already preparing those immune systems for the first dose. In fact, these individuals didn’t have as many side effects with the second dose.

“When we move into the use of boosters in the future, that may be something we see with them,” she theorized. “Possibly, those who get boosters will not get as many side effects. That’s something to consider and watch for moving forward.”

Initial information on the survey was sent out May 5 to individuals who had been administered their shots through Med Center Health. The survey closed June 21.

With the corporation primarily using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were excluded from the survey’s results due to their low number.

Joyce said the most common side effects from the vaccines were mild soreness at the injection site, fatigue, muscle ache, headache, chills and redness at the injection site. Particularly, sore arm soreness was the most reported symptom.

“Overall, I was pleased that we didn’t see any difference from clinical trials,” she said. “It was a true collaborative effort, and it was an exciting way to be able to conduct a research project. This can make a difference in people getting vaccinated.”

To date, about 91,766 doses of COVID-19 vaccine has been administered throughout Med Center Health’s sites, with 80,372 of those given at The Medical Center at Bowling Green.

Joyce said Med Center Health is currently seeing 60 to 90 individuals seeking the vaccine daily.

Eligible people ages 12 and up wanting the vaccine can walk in during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at the Medical Center’s Urgentcare clinic or they can call or text COVID to 270-796-4400 to make an appointment.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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