Just a few days ago, the world reached an important milestone in the fight against the novel coronavirus - 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered worldwide. And this is only the beginning, as countries from across the globe picked up the pace of vaccinations. This means that by now, epidemiologists have a pretty good understanding of how well the vaccine works and what to expect when you get one.
What about the side effects of the vaccination? Those who got the vaccine say that they can be significant, but it’s still worth getting it because vaccinations really do reduce one’s risk of getting the illness dramatically. What’s more, those few who do get ill tend to get a much milder version of Covid-19 or are asymptomatic altogether. Here’s the latest news on the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines and how to cope with them.
1. Fever and fatigue
If you feel tired or get a fever within 48 hours of getting the vaccine, don’t be alarmed - it’s actually a good sign. A mild or moderate fever is a common side effect after any vaccination, and the Covid-19 vaccines are no different. In the majority of cases, a fever is a sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccination and is in the process of building antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Stay hydrated to reduce the discomfort caused by the fever.
2. Pain and swelling around the vaccination site
Pain around the injection site is certainly the most common side effect of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine, and it usually goes away within a day or two after the vaccination. This side effect was known even before the approval of these two vaccines.
For example, Pfizer and Biontech’s clinical trial reported that 84% of the participants experienced pain, tenderness, and sometimes swelling in the injection site area. We’ve reported on the topic in greater detail in the article Moderna vs Pfizer: Promising COVID-19 Vaccines Compared. If you experience any pain or swelling in your arm after the vaccine, the CDC recommends simply exercising or moving the arm. Alternatively, you can apply a clean, cool, damp washcloth over the area of the injection site.
3. Chills, headaches, and muscle aches
Much like a fever, getting mild chills and body aches after the vaccination is a sign that your body is responding well to the vaccine. As Dr. Anthony Fauci explained in an interview with MSNBC, "The vaccine, because you're giving it in the arm, it gives a systemic reaction. You know that because sometimes after the second dose you feel a little achy, a little chilly, which means the immune system is really getting revved up."
The muscle spasms may also lead to a tension headache, so make sure to drink enough fluids to prevent that from happening. As unpleasant as they are, these symptoms are a kind of reassurance that your immune system is learning to fight the virus. These chills and body aches tend to be more prominent following the second dose of the vaccination, and they usually subside within a day or two.
Though much less common than other side effects, nausea and vomiting can occur following a Covid-19 vaccination. It’s more common for the Moderna vaccine: according to the FDA fact sheet, 23 percent of the recipients experience nausea, vomiting, or both after the vaccine. Like the other side effects mentioned earlier, these side effects are benign and should not be a cause for concern.
5. Skin Rash
The last side effect we will mention in this article is a relatively recent finding. As USA Today reported in a recent article, some people are developing a rash on the arm after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. What’s unusual about this side effect is that it can appear a week after vaccination, unlike other common side effects.
As of now, only those who got the Moderna vaccine experienced this side effect, and it’s quite rare. The rash usually appears after the first dose of the vaccination and clears up on its own within a week. Scientists cannot explain what causes this side effect, but they think that this so-called "COVID arm" is a delayed exaggerated immune response to the vaccination.
Information, Managing and Preventing Side Effects
Experts say that the best time to get the vaccination is the afternoon. This way, any side effects you may experience will not interfere with your daily activities. Medical experts confirm once again that both the Moderna and the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines have a very high safety profile. It is common for recipients to experience flu-like symptoms or pain in the injection site for a few hours or days after the vaccination. Still, these side effects are no cause for concern and, like the flu, it can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers, so stock up just in case.
Interestingly, statistical data and anecdotal evidence also show that the second dose of the vaccine is often accompanied by stronger side effects than the first one, but leading epidemiologists point out that you should still get the second dose for the vaccination to work. “Your immunity is incomplete, and it might not be effective. So you have more than likely wasted the first dose, if you don’t get the second one in time,” stated Dr. Waleed Javaid, an associate professor of infectious disease at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, to Healthline.
If you experience any of the side effects we have mentioned above, you can still get the second dose of the vaccination as planned according to experts. Only those with significant allergic reactions to the vaccination are recommended to avoid the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Share this information with family and friends!