One of the reasons why Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID vaccines engendered so much excitement is that both vaccines didn’t cause any serious side effects in volunteers during clinical trials. At worst, people who experienced side effects described symptoms similar in nature to what one might experience with the flu. And in instances where side effects did manifest, they typically went away within 24 hours.
From what we can gather thus far, there doesn’t seem to be any way to predict who will experience side effects from the vaccine and who won’t. There have even been instances where a set of twins had vastly different reactions after getting vaccinated.
If you’re at all worried about potential side effects from either of the three vaccines currently available in the US, the CDC has a helpful rundown of the more common side effects that occur post-vaccination.
Immediately following the administration of a vaccine dose, it’s common for people to feel pain in their arm, along with redness and swelling in the area surrounding the point of injection.
The more severe COVID vaccine side effects that occur throughout the body include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. One volunteer who participated in Pfizer’s clinical trial said his side effects felt like a “severe hangover.”
In more acute instances, people have reported being essentially knocked out for a full day.
Still, health experts note that the side effects above are nothing to worry about and, if anything, signify that the vaccine is doing its job and is already eliciting a response from the immune system.
“Things like fever or soreness at the injection site are normal, and actually they indicate that your body is reacting to the vaccine, which is what you want,” immunologist Ellen F. Foxman, told The Washington Post a few weeks ago. “That’s a good thing.”
According to the CDC, there are only two reasons why someone should seek medical attention after experiencing side effects from the COVID vaccine:
- If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
- If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
Another point worth mentioning is that anyone poised to get vaccinated should stay away from pain relievers like Advil and Tylenol before their appointment. Health experts note that there’s reason to believe that these medications could reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.
To this point, Dr. Fauci recently said:
The mixed advice is based on the fact that there’s very little data on that. I mean, if you’re going to take something that suppresses an immunological response, then obviously, you don’t want to take something like that.
Something that’s a true anti-inflammatory, such as one of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, should not be given.
Health experts also recommend that anyone currently taking blood thinners should consult with their doctor before getting vaccinated.