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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As millions more vaccines get out to the public, it’s going to be critical for patients to help the CDC keep track of the vaccine’s effects. There’s an easy tool you can use to help.  

When you get vaccinated, your provider will probably give you a big packet of information. You might not realize, a sheet is tucked inside pointing you to the new CDC self-reporting app.

Lisa Dressler is ready to see family and enjoy life after getting the COVID-19 vaccine this week. 

“My grandkids, they’re all back in school. I have a couple immune deficiencies so just to be careful, and kind of just, I’ll still mask, but kind of getting to go back to Royals games and movies and things like that,” Dressler said.

But like many, she was a little nervous about how the shot might affect her. 

“I kind of freaked out for the first 15 minutes sitting in there because you don’t know if you’re going to have a reaction,” Dressler said.

For years, the federal government’s operated the “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System” or VAERS.

Anyone who has severe reactions to any vaccine can report it through this system. But this year, as COVID shots hit the market, the CDC launched this new app called V-Safe.

“It actually will send not only messages about how do you feel, any side effects, so CDC can track closely in real-time, if people are having any issues. But it can also send you reminders like it’s time for your second dose,” said Dr. Sarah Boyd, a St. Luke’s Health System infectious disease specialist.

The ability to track any patient reactions to the vaccine in real time is critical. 

While most people have very mild symptoms like arm soreness, if you experience any side effects not commonly listed, reporting it through V-Safe will help the CDC investigate. 

“If there was ever a very severe reaction, or unusual, then it says on the app, CDC may reach out to you to get more information. Having that ability for the person to give their own experience I think is invaluable,” Boyd said.

When you log into the V-Safe app, you’ll enter the date and brand of vaccine you got. Then the CDC will follow-up with a health survey. All the information collected will also be important in helping COVID vaccines move beyond emergency use authorization to full approval down the road. 

“When we take all of that kind of compiled data, it definitely will help to determine effectiveness as well as safety profile long-term,” Boyd said.

You’re encouraged to use the V-Safe app if you’ve gotten the COVID vaccine within the past six weeks. If you lost your information packet after being vaccinated or did not receive one, you can report vaccine effects here

If you have any fever or arm pain after getting the shot, doctors say you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. But you should not take any medicines like that before getting vaccinated.