MedSafetyWeek November 2021: support the safety of vaccines

Our sixth annual #MedSafetyWeek social media campaign will take place on 1 to 7 November 2021. This year’s theme is on the importance of reporting suspected adverse reactions to vaccines. Show your support by sharing MHRA material on social media, as well as discussing with colleagues and patients how reporting using the Yellow Card scheme helps to improve the safety of vaccines.

What healthcare professionals can do to support MedSafetyWeek – 1 to 7 November 2021

  • don’t delay in reporting suspected adverse reactions to the Yellow Card scheme or via the Yellow Card app (download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store)
  • report suspected reactions to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines to the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site or Yellow Card app
  • for each vaccine administered, accurately record in clinical health records details such as the vaccine and product name, batch number, expiry date, the dose, number of vaccinations (if multiple), and site of administration
  • include the brand and batch number when reporting suspected adverse reactions to vaccines to the Yellow Card scheme
  • for suspected reactions following a third or booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, please provide details of any suspected reactions following previous COVID-19 vaccinations, including which vaccine was previously received
  • consider a discussion about common ‘side effects’ with your patient; you could talk about:
    • noting the batch number and reading the product information that comes with the vaccine – it lists possible reactions and advises them on what to do, including reporting side effects
    • the purpose of the Yellow Card scheme and the importance of reporting any suspected problems to help the safe use of vaccines for others
    • what to do if they do experience any suspected adverse reactions following vaccination
  • talk to your colleagues about being vigilant for new or rare suspected reactions with vaccines or medicines and reporting them to the MHRA
  • follow the MHRA on its social media channels and show your support by retweeting, commenting, liking, and sharing material with your social media contacts using #MHRAyellowcard, #MedSafetyWeek, #ReportSideEffects, and #patientsafety

About MedSafetyWeek

MedSafetyWeek is an annual MHRA social media campaign; now in its sixth year. The purpose of the campaign is to support awareness of reporting to the Yellow Card scheme. Each year, we use Drug Safety Update to ask healthcare professionals and organisations to begin preparations to support these important messages.

This #MedSafetyWeek, we call on all healthcare professionals, and especially those administering vaccines, national immunisation programme staff, vaccine recipients and their carers and families, and patient and healthcare professional organisations. Please report suspected adverse reactions following vaccination. We advise people not to wait for someone else to report their suspicions.

The annual #MedSafetyWeek forms part an international effort to raise awareness about the importance of reporting suspected adverse reactions by national medicines regulatory authorities from 65 countries across the globe and their stakeholders. It is led by Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC), a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring. The campaign is supported by members of the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) and the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA).

The #MedSafetyWeek 2021 project team consists of representatives from the following medicines regulators working collaboratively: the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (UK) as co-lead, International Society on Pharmacovigilance (ISoP) Egypt Chapter, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (Ireland), and the Food and Drugs Authority (Ghana).

Safety monitoring systems working effectively to protect public health

Vaccines are life-saving medicinal products that are given to protect individuals against serious infections and sometimes the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases.

Patient safety is number one priority for the MHRA. We rigorously monitor the safety of all UK-approved vaccines. Our experts routinely analyse Yellow Card data alongside all available safety data to determine which events and suspected reactions thought to be associated with a vaccine may be a potential signal and which may have occurred anyway in the absence of vaccination.

Reporting helps to identify new adverse reactions and gain more information about known effects. By completing a Yellow Card report, you can help the safe use of vaccines for everyone else.

Importance of brand and batch numbers in vaccine reports

As vaccines are usually complex biological products, it is important for traceability to record the brand and batch number when administering vaccines and include these details when completing a Yellow Card. If the brand name is unavailable, the active ingredient or antigen type should be clearly identified – for example the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should be clearly distinguished from pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines and Yellow Card reports

We continue to publish the summaries of Yellow Card report for the COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK. The report, published weekly, summarises information received via the Yellow Card scheme and other safety investigations carried out by the MHRA under the COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance Strategy.

We take every report of a suspected adverse reaction seriously and encourage everyone to report through the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site or using the Yellow Card app. There are also online resources available for you to use.

Resources for healthcare professionals

Information and resources for immunisation practitioners and other health professionals are available on the Public Health England collection on immunisation and the Green Book.

An e-learning training module on vaccine pharmacovigilance is also available via the WHO.

MHRA guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines and vaccines safety is available on our website.

Yellow Card Biobank – Virtual Workshop

Another way healthcare professionals can help us is by attending our healthcare professional event on setting up a Yellow Card Biobank. The Yellow Card Biobank aims to research genetic factors behind adverse drug reactions and how we can use this data to reduce these incidents.

We ask practicing healthcare professionals to help shape this work. We are running a free 90 minute virtual event on Thursday 21 October 2021 and would appreciate hearing your thoughts. You can register for the event on Eventbrite. A certificate of attendance can be provided to those who require it.

Registration will close on Monday 18 October 2021 at 13:00.

Article citation: Drug Safety Update volume 15, issue 3: October 2021: 3.

Published 6 October 2021