The release and rollout of effective coronavirus vaccines have many of us feeling like the end of the pandemic is within sight. Fortunately, apart from a handful of isolated incidents, the shots have not produced any serious complications or symptoms outside of those you experience during traditional vaccinations. And according to experts, you can anticipate when you’re most likely to feel the non-serious side effects of the COVID vaccine: after the second dose. Read on to see what you might expect after you get your shots, and for more on places that are making their own plans for distribution of doses, check out These 2 States Are Going Against the CDC’s Vaccine Recommendations.
The mRNA vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna work in two separate doses that are given to patients three to four weeks apart. And doctors point out that the second dose may produce more noticeable side effects in some patients.
“If you’re going to get the systemic side effects, it generally occurs after the second shot when you get not only muscle aches, but you can get joint aches,” David Sellers, MD, the first healthcare worker at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Tennessee to receive a vaccine, told local NBC affiliate WSMV. “When you get that second injection, your body is already kind of primed and it starts reacting against the vaccine.”
In fact, participants in the clinical trials for both vaccines reported more discomfort after receiving their second round of shots. But doctors note that taking a single dose only provides 50 percent efficacy, and the benefits of going for the second far outweigh missing out on the protection it provides. “The rate that you get immune to this vaccine at 93 to 94 percent is incredible,” Sellers said of the second dose. “So, I want people to trust it and I want people to take it because this is a game-changer—this is the game-changer we’ve been waiting for, actually.”
What kind of side effects could you possibly expect after getting your second shot in particular? Read on to see what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, and for more recent updates on who can safely receive their doses, check out The CDC Just Changed This Important COVID Vaccine Guideline.
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Similar to other inoculations, the CDC says that developing a fever is a common side effect of the COVID vaccine. The agency recommends making yourself comfortable by dressing in light clothing to bring your temperature down, as well as being sure to drink plenty of fluids. If your fever or any other side effects don’t seem to be going away after a few days, the CDC says to call your healthcare provider. And for more vaccine news, check out The Real Reason President Trump Hasn’t Gotten the COVID Vaccine Yet.
The vaccine may cause you to run a fever, but it could also give you body chills. Even though the side effect creates discomfort, it’s not a reason for concern unless it lasts for more than a few days, according to the CDC. And for more on how the virus is spreading where you live, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
Pain and swelling in the vaccinated area
Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the arm where you receive a shot is a common side effect of many vaccines, and the COVID vaccine is no different. The CDC suggests reducing any pain by applying “a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area” and continuing to use your arm as usual.
But keep an eye on your symptoms: while a little discomfort is nothing to worry about, the agency says you should contact your healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness in the spot you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours. The agency suggests also consulting your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you’re experiencing any significant discomfort. And for more on the inoculation process, check out These Are the Only People Who Shouldn’t Get 2 Doses of the COVID Vaccine.
The CDC also warns that a headache is another common side effect of the COVID vaccine. Science Magazine reports that 2 percent of people who participated in the Pfizer/BioNTech trial had a headache as a side effect, while 4.5 percent of participants in the Moderna trial experienced the issue. And for more regular updates on the COVID vaccine as well as other aspects of the pandemic, sign up for our daily newsletter.
If you find yourself feeling more fatigued than usual after receiving the COVID vaccine, don’t be alarmed. The CDC says feeling tired is one of the normal side effects of the shots, with multiple people who participated in Moderna’s vaccine trial and the Pfizer/BioNTech trial reporting to Science Magazine that they experienced extreme tiredness. And for more on what officials are expecting, check out The One Side Effect Dr. Fauci Is Worried About With His Next COVID Shot.