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This coronavirus vaccine side effect is rare, but you need to be prepared anyway

Published Feb 1st, 2021 5:20PM EST
Coronavirus vaccine
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  • Expected side effects from the coronavirus vaccine, according to the CDC, include things like fever, tiredness, chills, and pain at the injection site.
  • A rare coronavirus vaccine side effect that some people have experienced, however, is a lump in the armpit of the arm in which they’ve been vaccinated.
  • Doctors and the CDC say this coronavirus vaccine side effect is rare and also nothing to worry about.

As a growing number of states report the first cases of much more transmissible COVID-19 variant strains, it’s now become a race against time across the US to administer as many coronavirus vaccine doses as possible.

This was already the case, of course, it’s just that now any delay in administering the first COVID vaccine doses to people risks leaving them exposed longer and vulnerable to the possibility of becoming infected by one of these newer COVID strains. Along these lines, the World Health Organization says that in Africa, the newer, more contagious COVID strain is behind a surge in COVID infections and deaths. And that South Africa strain, known as B.1.351, has been identified already in the US, with South Carolina on Thursday confirming two cases in adults with no known travel history or connection to each other. All of which is to reiterate how important it is that the COVID vaccine rollout continue at the brisk pace it’s on now — the US, in fact, is already up to an average of 1.35 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered every day, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker.

All that said, there may still be plenty of people out there who aren’t necessarily sure what to expect after they receive their COVID jabs — such as what the side effects might be. The CDC has said that expected side effects include things like fever, chills, tiredness, and pain at the site of the injection, all of those being the normal response to your body building up immunity to the coronavirus. But there’s also another side effect to be aware of — a rare one, but one that might freak you out, nonetheless.

One of the side effects that hasn’t been discussed as much is that some people have been developing a lump in the armpit of the arm in which they’ve received their COVID shot. If this includes you, don’t worry — for one thing, this is rare, but doctors also say this reaction is nothing at all to be concerned about.

According to the CDC, these lumps in the armpit usually show up 2-4 days post-vaccination, and they tend to last a couple of days at most. Moreover, this side effect seems to be pretty rare. “Reports of lymphadenopathy were imbalanced, with 1.1% of persons in the vaccine group and 0.6% in the placebo group reporting such events,” the CDC explains.

Along these same lines, Dr. Purvi Parikh — an immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network — said in a recent interview that swollen lymph nodes are one way the body tends to show that it’s building up an immune response. Your lymph nodes contain immune cells, according to Dr. Parikh, and the lymph nodes near your armpit swell because they’re the closest to the injection site in your arm.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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