As the Coronavirus Vaccine rollout continues across the country, health experts say one thing is critical for people like us to understand before they roll up their sleeves: The Vaccines May Cause Side Effects.
The United State Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the most common side effects of the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are:
e. Injection Site Pain and Swelling
The following side effects have also been reported :
a. Swollen lymph nodes (typically manifests as a lump in your armpit or above your collarbone).
b. Delayed swelling, redness or a rash at the injection site
c. Muscle and joint pain
Most of the reactions are temporary and resolve within a few days. Since you may feel under the weather, experts recommend not making any big plans for a few days after you get each dose of the vaccine.
"Where a mistake could be made is in people being surprised or not being prepared for side effects," says William Moss, M.D., executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
1# Side Effects Are A Sign The Vaccine Is Working
Side effects from vaccines are not uncommon. The seasonal flu shot, for example, can cause fever and fatigue, among other reactions. And the vaccine to prevent shingles can induce shivering, muscle pain and an upset stomach, to name a few.
In some ways, these mild to moderate reactions are " a good thing," Moss says, because " it's a sign that the immune system is responding to the vaccine."
The key, experts say, is to weigh the temporary discomfort against the long-term benefits: a potentially high level of protection from a disease that has uprooted everyday life for many of us and has killed more than 2.2 million people globally.
" We are willing to tolerate discomfort in other aspects of our life - many people exercise and have muscle aches afterward, and don't say, 'I'm never going to exercise again,' " Moss points out. " There are just many aspects of our lives where we need to be willing to make the trade-off of some degree of discomfort for a longer-term gain."
2# How To Treat Side Effects
Although side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, most should go away on their own after a few days. Plan for plenty of time to rest in the days immediately after you get each dose of the vaccine.
If you have pain or discomfort, an over-the-counter pain reliever such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help you feel better.
" If your fever is making you uncomfortable, taking acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory should bring it right down ", an infectious disease specialist at UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Calif.
The CDC advises against the use of pain relievers before vaccination " for the purpose of preventing post-vaccination symptoms," so wait until after you are experiencing side effects to take any medication.
If you have a delayed reaction at the injection site - typically described as a rash, itchiness or redness that appears 5 to 10 days after vaccination - it's likely a mild allergic reaction. Treating it with an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl or a topical steroid like hydrocortisone.
Another side effect that may last more than a few days is a swollen lymph node, which may feel like a lump under your armpit or over your collarbone. The swelling is not harmful, but it can last a few weeks. Eventually, it should go away on its own.
3# Safety Monitoring Doesn't Stop
Just because the vaccines have expanded from trial participants to the public doesn't mean monitoring for them will stop. Individuals who receive the vaccines will continue to be watched for long-term side effects and adverse events or disease.
One way health officials are tracking side effects is with an app called v-safe. Can download to our smartphone. When we get our first dose of the vaccine, the health care provider will give us information about how to get started.
Infectious disease experts urge vaccine recipients to participate because it gives them important safety information about the vaccine. The daily survey takes only about 30 seconds, and the app protects us privacy by erasing our phone number after we take the survey (finished answer question).
@ Jackie San
4# Older Adults Could Experience Fewer Side Effects
While the coronavirus vaccines have been shown to be just as effective in older adults, people age 65 and older experience fewer side effects than younger recipients.
Researchers are still studying why this is the case, but they say it's likely related to the declining immune response that comes with age.
Studies also show that most people experience more severe side effects after their second dose.