Don’t panic, doctors say. Side effects from Covid-19 vaccines won’t last long. And they’re actually proof that your immune system is working the way it’s supposed to. (Though vaccines are still very effective even without side effects.)
What are the most common side effects?
“The kinds of things we’re seeing are arm soreness, body aches, sometimes fatigue, sometimes even low-grade fever,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccinologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“And we know why this happens — because the vaccine is very potent in inducing an immune response. That’s one of the reasons why we’re getting such high levels of protection” against Covid-19.Other side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site and possibly headache or nausea, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
How many people get side effects?
It’s not certain because millions of Americans are getting vaccinated every day, and those who do get side effects might not report them to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. But in vaccine trials, about 10% to 15% of immunized volunteers developed “quite noticeable side effects,” former Operation Warp Speed Chief Scientific Adviser Moncef Slaoui said late last year. “Most people will have much less noticeable side effects,” he said.
When it comes to anaphylaxis — or severe allergic reactions — “the rate is now around two to five per million,” Hotez said. That means about 0.0005% (or less) of those who get a Covid-19 vaccine have a serious, negative response. These are the symptoms of anaphylaxis The good news is even when severe outcomes do happen, “they usually happen in the first 30 minutes,” Hotez said. “That’s why vaccine sites keep people there for 15 to 30 minutes afterward — to make certain they’re not having an anaphylactic reaction. “The CDC recommends people who have had a severe allergic reaction to a different vaccine or a history of anaphylaxis stay for 30 minutes after vaccination. Others could leave after 15 minutes. All places administering vaccines must be armed with epinephrine to quickly combat any cases of anaphylaxis, the CDC said. More than 150 million doses of vaccines had been administered by the end of March. So far, there is no evidence of any death caused by a Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC said.
Can I skip the second dose to avoid stronger side effects?
Pfizer says its vaccine protection lasts at least 6 months and protects against variants That’s a really bad idea, Hotez said. Not only would you miss out on increased protection, but you’d also likely reduce the time span of your protection. “Your immune system is already jacked up from the first dose,” Geisbert said. So with a second dose, “you tend to build up a longer and more durable response.”
When should I get help if my side effects seem severe?
“In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection,” the CDC said. But you should contact your doctor or health care provider if your side effects are worrying you or don’t seem to be going away after a few days. Ditto if the redness or tenderness from where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours.
By Holly Yan, CNN