(CBS Denver) -Dr. Matthew Salzberg was out doing some errands at holiday time a few hours after getting his COVID-19 vaccine shot. “Just a little bit of a sore arm, but nothing greater than when you get a regular flu shot,” he told KCNC-TV in Denver.
Dr. Salzberg helps COVID patients frequently as medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UCHealth Hospital in Aurora. Now he’s helping in a different way: wearing a device to track his reactions after his vaccination.
“It’s pretty cool technology,” he explained as he revealed a “BioButton” produced by a Golden, Colorado-based company, Biointellisense.
It communicates via Bluetooth with his smartphone and an app tells him how things are going, plus the company monitors it.
“You get a report from the company every couple of hours that tell you what your vitals have been doing over the past several hours.”
The device stuck to his chest and the chest of Dr. Richard Zane, chief innovation officer at UCHealth and Chief of Emergency Services at UCHealth Hospital, measures and transmits data about heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate and a certain degree of movement.
“There are delayed reactions that we don’t know about,” said Dr. Zane. “It’s a new vaccine, and it appears to be extremely safe based on the clinical trial data … we want to be careful especially in that elderly, fragile patient population. So what we’re looking for in that patient population is any inkling to deterioration. So any inkling to fever occurs. Any inkling to respiratory rate increase, any inkling to pulse increase and what that means together with a combination of movement.”
The devices might not only detect small signs of complications with the vaccine but infection with the virus. A total of 100 people are getting the devices along with their shots. They get them a day before each of the two shots, then wear them for a week after. “What we can also do is using an algorithm to be able to differentiate between what could be a side effect of the vaccine and what could be active COVID infection,” noted Zane.
“We’re going to be able to keep an eye on you and watch and make sure you’re OK with this,” explained Dr. Salzberg. “There are people who are monitoring this remotely and so these apps can alert you and they can reach out to you as well.”
That would be in the case of some dangerous-looking data. People might be called to get medical care or potentially, even an ambulance dispatched.
Dr. Salzberg checked the data a few hours after his shot. “In the first four hours after my shot, no change,” he said.
“We’re not seeing anything. It’s just too early,” said Dr. Zane.
But they will collect data and use it to better handle the virus and warn of any reactions to the vaccine. “They could develop complications of the vaccine that could be interpreted as COVID and they could develop COVID that could be interpreted as complications from the vaccine and we can differentiate between the two.”
The devices are really a future in health care. Hospitals and other health care facilities can use them to track people with a variety of diseases. “We’re really much broader. We’re thinking about patients with difficult to control diabetes, heart failure, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease,” said Dr. Zane.
Patients released from the hospital with COVID sometimes have to come back as symptoms fall and rise. Putting BioButtons or similar devices on them can help hospitals intervene when they have problems.
Dr. Zane also sees another use.
“We envision that people in skilled nursing facilities will all be wearing a device like this all the time, let alone after they’ve been vaccinated.”