As any healthcare professional and Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Islamabad will tell you, all vaccines are associated with side effects, ranging from mild to severe. In fact, this is the body’s way of telling that the vaccine is working.
In the present scenario, there are more than 20 vaccines for coronavirus, which are authorized for use around the world. Read on to know more about the common and uncommon side effects associated with coronavirus vaccine:
Why should you get vaccinated if there are side effects?
Almost every form of pharmacological therapy is associated with adverse effects, including vaccines. What healthcare professionals are aiming for, is to find medication where the benefits outweigh the risks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to get vaccinated, not only to limit the spread of infection, but also to prevent infection with debilitating form of coronavirus responsible for causing extensive lung damage. There is no single vaccine that guarantees complete protection from the virus; however, as per the research data, the severity of coronavirus is highly mitigated in the vaccinated population.
Common side effects
The common adverse reactions to the vaccine are mostly divided into injection-site side-effects and generalized side-effects. Since the vaccine is injected into the muscle, there may be soreness, redness and swelling in the arm. People may find it difficult to use that arm for a few days. The discomfort gradually wanes away on its own.
Throughout the rest of the body, there may be tiredness, muscle pain, fever, chills and headache. In some cases, there may be nausea and episodes of vomiting, along with joint pain. Swelling of the lymph nodes may occur, and is a sign that the immune system is activated.
Most of these common side effects last only three to seven days. The frequency of side effects, as reported by the CDC, is higher in the women. Studies show that nearly 80 percent of the adverse events are reported by women. Another study showed that 15 out of 16 cases of anaphylaxis were seen in women. Similar data was found in the 2009 flu pandemic, when people were vaccinated against H1N1. It is postulated that the female sex hormones—estrogen and progesterone play a role in mediating these side effects.
Data from the safety summary of the coronavirus vaccines shows that reactogenicity symptoms—adverse effects occurring within seven days—are mostly mild and seen in most of the population. Most of the side effects throughout the body are more common after the second dose of the vaccine.
Rare side effects
With AstraZeneca vaccine, there are reports of blood clotting. For the first dose, there are 15 cases per million from the first dose, observed in the UK. The exact cause behind this clotting is not known yet, but the prevalence is higher in the younger population.
Another rare adverse reaction is myocarditis—inflammation of the heart, and pericarditis—inflammation of the layer around heart. Seen in young men, following vaccination, these side-effects get better with treatment. People undergoing myocarditis report chest pain, pounding heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
Some women have reported heavier period, or unexpected bleeding after receiving the vaccine, that lasts only a while. These reports are closely being monitored but so far there is no established link between menstruation and coronavirus vaccine.
Severe allergic reaction—anaphylaxis—is not particular to coronavirus vaccine, but can occur after any vaccine. Healthcare providers are directed to assess the patients for risk of anaphylaxis prior to vaccination. According to all information sources, including oladoc.com, people with anaphylaxis, are exempted from vaccination.