Covid-19 vaccines are safe. Indeed, currently, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the deadly virus is to get vaccinated. Vaccination protects you from developing severe Covid-19 symptoms and dying of the virus.
Widespread vaccination is also the best shot at finally containing the ravaging health pandemic. Physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and universal face coverings are effective but not bulletproof. Vaccination is the sure cure.
Unfortunately, and as with all medical treatments, the Covid-19 jab comes with a few unpleasant side effects. For instance, some people report headaches and muscle aches immediately after getting the jab.
Should you be worried? Can the Covid-19 vaccine side effects become serious health issues? Here’s everything you need to know and when to see the doctor.
Why It’s Normal to Have Side Effects
Perhaps we should begin by explaining why you shouldn’t be worried about the vaccine’s side effects unless it’s a severe issue.
Vaccines are designed to give you immunity without the dangers of getting the disease. However, nearly all vaccines have side effects for one primary reason – immune response. When a vaccine is introduced into your body, it instructs your immune system to react in a certain way. For example, vaccines increase blood flow so that that more immune cells can circulate. Additionally, vaccines raise body temperature to kill the virus.
Raised body temperature is therefore normal after getting any vaccine. The Covid-19 vaccine isn’t an exception. A mild fever, owing to higher body temperature, is also expected. There’s no need for alarm unless the temperature rise is beyond the predicted range.
Muscle aches are also a common side effect. It’s a sign that the immune system is responding to antigens in the vaccine and gearing up to fight the virus. Both side effects should wear out naturally within a few days.
It’s also important to note that different people experience the side effects to different degrees. For instance, some people may not experience muscle aches at all. This doesn’t mean that the vaccine isn’t working. It merely means that our bodies are built differently.
Common Covid-19 Vaccine Side Effects
As already mentioned, most covid-19 vaccine side effects are mild and only last a few days. For the four main vaccines currently in use, i.e., Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the most common side effects include;
- Pain at the site of injection
- Redness at the site of the injection
- Swelling around the injection area
- General tiredness
- Muscle pain
What Else Do You Need to Know
While most side effects are harmless and clear out naturally within a few days, you may be wondering about the sporadic cases of severe side effects and few deaths reported so far. Here’s what you need to know;
1. Severe side-effects
In sporadic cases, people who get vaccinated for Covid-19 may experience severe side effects, especially a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. The CDC estimates that anaphylaxis occurs in 11 cases per million doses among people receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
Anaphylaxis occurs soon after vaccination. Symptoms include low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face and throat. Although it’s fatal, the condition is treatable with epinephrine (EpiPen). It’s why everyone who gets the vaccine is observed for at least 15 minutes with epinephrine at hand.
2. Long-term side effects
There have been a few concerns about Covid-19 vaccines making people sick with the coronavirus. You’ve likely even heard or read about people who got infected after getting the vaccine. So it’s important to get the facts straight.
First off, Covid-19 vaccines cannot make a person sick with the coronavirus. Multiple studies have been conducted on the same, and to date, none of the approved vaccines has been found to contain the live virus that causes Covid-19. So, you don’t have to worry about catching the coronavirus through the vaccine.
Secondly, you must understand that the coronavirus vaccine doesn’t make you immune to Covid-19 immediately. You don’t become immune to the virus seconds or minutes after getting the vaccine. It takes weeks for the body to build immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Consequently, it’s possible for someone who was vaccinated yesterday or a few days ago to be infected with the coronavirus. This is because the vaccine hasn’t had enough time to build sufficient immunity against the virus.
When to See the Doctor
All side effects, including effects from the second vaccine shot, are mild and should go away naturally within a few days of receiving the dose. However, a few people may experience more severe and prolonged Covid-19 vaccine side effects.
The CDC advises that you call the doctor if the redness or tenderness gets worse after 24 hours or the side effects don’t seem to be going away after three days.