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Washington doctor says COVID-19 vaccine safety data is 'encouraging'

Medical professionals from California, Oregon, and Washington believe COVID vaccines are safe.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Less than 48 hours after receiving emergency authorization from the FDA, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup voted unanimously to approve the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, as well.

The workgroup was comprised of medical professionals from the West Coast and served as another layer of oversight to make sure the vaccines are safe for the public.

Committee member Dr. John Dunn was among those who spent hours reviewing both vaccines.

“The efficacy is wonderful, by really any standards, the safety data is hugely encouraging,” said Dunn. 

Dunn heads the vaccine program for Kaiser Permanente and worked with a team of medical leaders from California, Oregon, and Washington as part of the group. 

“It's really remarkable that we've come up with two so far that have been as profoundly effective as they are, and that really appear the be very well tolerated,” he explained.

Dunn believes it is important for people to know about the side effects, but to remember they are mild, especially when compared against COVID-19. He feels so strongly about the safety of the vaccine he got the shot Saturday when doses came to his medical facility. 

“I'm getting to experience it first-hand, and right now, my shoulder is a little sore, and last night I was a little more fatigued than usual, otherwise I feel just fine," said Dunn.

Dunn said the timeline for the emergency authorization was fast, but he wants the public to know they did not cut any corners when it comes to safety. He said the U.S. has a thorough review process for vaccines that involves critical evaluation and that even with approval, they will continue to track and evaluate the vaccines.

“I think all parties were in agreement that the safety steps we have in place weren't things that could be compromised,” said Dunn.

Dunn said the scientific review group will get a break now until another vaccine is ready for their review, and just like the Pfizer and Moderna versions, they will spend time giving it a careful analysis.