On Saturday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance for people with pre-existing medical conditions when it comes to the new COVID-19 vaccines in circulation. The agency advised people with some underlying conditions to seek the vaccine as early as their state allows since the novel coronavirus can be more dangerous to some. However, it also suggested examining the vaccine's ingredients and talking to a doctor about potential allergies, and warned about how safety data has been limited so far.
The CDC's new statement this weekend said that "adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19." Therefore, those high-risk individuals should keep up with the regulations in their state and seek a vaccine when they can. The only exception to this advice would be those who have previously had severe allergic reactions to the ingredients of the vaccine. The CDC also explained succinctly how the safety data on the vaccine has been limited by its fast development, and who may be at risk of side effects.
The CDC noted that people with weakened immune systems or autoimmune conditions are treading unknown territory when it comes to the current vaccines. Both are mRNA vaccines, which have not been thoroughly tested on people with autoimmune disorders, according to the agency.
"People with autoimmune conditions may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine," the new statement reads. "However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them. Individuals from this group were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials."
The CDC noted that there is no evidence of increased risk for people who have previously had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which is a condition that sometimes causes complications with other vaccines. They also noted that the FDA does not believe the mRNA vaccines cause flare-ups of Bell's palsy.
Perhaps most importantly, the CDC's new statements urge people to continue following safety measures like social distancing and wearing masks even after they are vaccinated, until the treatment has been distributed more widely and tested more thoroughly. They even advise people who have been vaccinated to follow quarantine guidelines for two weeks after a potential exposure to the virus. So far, most states are only offering vaccines to front-line health care workers and nursing home residents.