CDC taps Kaiser to lead data-driven COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance effort


Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente's Vaccine Study Center is overseeing a national data effort focused on analyzing the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

The CDC selected Kaiser to lead the Rapid Cycle Analysis through the agency's Vaccine Safety Datalink network, according to a Jan. 6 news release. Organizations that share data through the network include five Kaiser Permanente regions, HealthPartners in Minneapolis and the Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic.

The surveillance requires searching through a wide collection of electronic patient records to identify potential adverse health effects, such as strokes or anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction. The data analysts will look for rates of particular outcomes, comparing them with a number that would be typically expected in a given population.

"We'll be looking at heart attacks, for example, and it's on the list because no one really knows if there is a risk from the vaccine," said Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, director of Kaiser's vaccine center. "So we'll monitor to see if there are excess cases, and if so, whether an increased risk is associated with a COVID-19 vaccine."

Eight healthcare institutions that participate in the VSD share weekly data reports on the selected diagnoses, and the data analysts search for any possible connection with a COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. Klein said analyses will begin soon now that people have begun receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and results of the project will be shared within the Vaccine Safety Datalink network.


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