Last week, we all witnessed a bright new development in the battle against COVID-19: the rollout of the first two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. Anticipating any number of questions and information needs around this next phase of the pandemic – vaccination – the College had, a few weeks before, activated a new COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. We recognize that providers and patients need information that is created for the general public through the lens of allergy and immunology experts and is tailored to allergy and asthma patients.
While many agencies and organizations have been working to provide patient information about the vaccines in development, the College has a unique contribution and perspective to add. In fact, allergy offices are receiving calls from our patients with food, drug, pollen, insect, latex and other allergies because the allergist is the physician they most trust to give them advice on allergies.
The value of this perspective was borne out last week, when one of the first jobs of the task force was to respond urgently to concerns about the risk for allergic reaction to the first mRNA vaccine that was approved. Task force members and College leaders together have outstanding expertise in areas of immunology, vaccination programs, COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials and patient care. They responded immediately by developing excellent guidance for providers and patients related to the Pfizer BioNTech product rollout. With more vaccines approved, we anticipate more calls not only about allergies, but also about immunocompromised patients and patients on biologics.
Research has shown that when it comes to vaccines, patients are most likely to trust their health care provider for advice. As each new product is introduced to the public, and as more information becomes available about efficacy and longevity of the immune response, College resources will be updated so that we can play a vital role in getting the public vaccinated. The task force stands ready to assist our membership in navigating this phase of the pandemic – which, I hope, will quickly contribute to a significant decrease in cases and deaths in the U.S. and the world.
Members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force are:
Dr. Niraj Patel, Chair
Dr. Sangeetha Mohan Kodoth
Dr. Mary Hudelson
Dr. Kevin Murphy
Dr. Purvi Parikh
Dr. Daniel Ein
Dr. Gailen Marshal
Dr. Michael Blaiss