Background: The BNT162b2 SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination has mitigated the burden of COVID-19 among residents of long-term care facilities considerably, despite being excluded from the vaccine trials. Data on reactogenicity (vaccine side effects) in this population are limited.
Aims: To assess reactogenicity among nursing home (NH) residents. To provide a plausible proxy for predicting vaccine response among this population.
Methods: We enrolled and sampled NH residents and community-dwelling healthcare workers who received the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine, to assess local or systemic reactogenicity and antibody levels (immunogenicity).
Results: NH residents reported reactions at a much lower frequency and lesser severity than the community-dwelling healthcare workers. These reactions were mild and transient with all subjects experiencing more local than systemic reactions. Based on our reactogenicity and immunogenicity data, we developed a linear regression model predicting log-transformed anti-spike, anti-receptor-binding domain (RBD), and neutralizing titers, with a dichotomous variable indicating the presence or absence of reported reactions which revealed a statistically significant effect, with estimated shifts in log-transformed titers ranging from 0.32 to 0.37 (all p < 0.01) indicating greater immunogenicity in subjects with one or more reported reactions of varying severity.
Discussion: With a significantly lower incidence of post-vaccination reactions among NH residents as reported in this study, the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine appears to be well-tolerated among this vulnerable population. If validated in larger populations, absence of reactogenicity could help guide clinicians in prioritizing vaccine boosters.
Conclusions: Reactogenicity is significantly mild among nursing home residents and overall, subjects who reported post-vaccination reactions developed higher antibody titers.
Keywords: COVID-19; Immunogenicity; Nursing homes; Reactogenicity; Vaccination.
© 2021. This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply.