No matter how carefully a vaccine is tested, there is always a risk of unusual side effects that affect a few of those who get vaccinated. To minimize the damage, it is important to see as soon as possible who suffers from side effects.
A known example of side effects from a vaccine is when the Pandermix vaccine was used against swine flu. It turned out that Pandermix in unusual situations could cause narcolepsy. Because so few of all those who received the vaccine also got narcolepsy, it took a long time before the connection was clear.
Now a new national register will reduce the risk of it happening again. It is the Swedish Public Health Agency that will build up the register, which will contain information about who was vaccinated, when the vaccination took place and with which vaccine.
This information can then be used by authorities such as the Medical Products Agency.
- We plan to link information from the vaccination register, about who was vaccinated with which vaccine and at what time, with information from other health data registers, says Ulla Wändel Liminga, scientific leader for drug safety at the Medical Products Agency who will use the register, in a comment to Ekot.
In this way, the Medical Products Agency expects to be able to see more quickly if any diagnosis stands out among those who have been vaccinated. This information in turn gives the Medical Products Agency the opportunity to invest resources in investigating whether it is a side effect and, if so, who is at risk of suffering from it.
Of course, the registry itself cannot guarantee that a new vaccine will not have any side effects. But it can hopefully calm some of those who are worried about possible side effects.
In that case, it is very welcome. A survey conducted by the World Economic Forum shows that 27 percent of those surveyed in 15 countries said they were not completely convinced that they would be vaccinated against covid-19. A third of these said that the fear of side effects made them insecure.
At the same time, there is no doubt that vaccines are generally very safe and that they save millions of lives . Exactly how many lives are involved is difficult to calculate, but there are estimates that it can be anywhere from two million to five million lives each year.