Nicola Klein, MD, discusses new smartphone technology for reporting vaccine side effects

Nicola Klein, MD, director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, told the Washington Post that a new smartphone-based tool for reporting COVID-19 vaccine side effects “is a nice early-warning system, and has the potential to be very useful and give a lot of early information if people are willing to sign up for it.”

The text-messaging system, called v-safe — which is overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — is designed to provide real-time warnings of side effects in the first Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus. But some technology and public health experts warned in the Washington Post article that the v-safe system may be vulnerable to manipulation by anti-vaccine activists and hackers in order to undermine public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Klein is a pediatrician and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Northern California, which is affiliated with The Permanente Medical Group.

She told the Washington Post that security is of utmost importance for vaccine surveillance systems such as the CDC’s Vaccine Safety Datalink, which relies on the participation of large health care organizations, including several Kaiser Permanente locations. The Vaccine Safety Datalink monitors the safety of vaccines and conducts studies about rare and serious adverse events following vaccinations. A limitation, however, is that it does not include people who never seek medical care, Dr. Klein said.

In contrast, v-safe removes that barrier, which comes with benefits as well as risks, Dr. Klein said.

Note: Read the full Washington Post story here.