What side effects can you expect from the COVID-19 vaccine?


The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine could be distributed within the next few weeks in the United States, with the FDA set to discuss Pfizer’s emergency use authorization on December 10 and Moderna’s the following week.

With mass vaccination against the novel virus quickly becoming a reality instead of a hypothetical scenario, some are now asking what side effects they can expect when they get the coronavirus vaccine.

According to Prevention, people may experience several side effects from the coronavirus vaccine including fever, fatigue, pain or redness at the injection site, headache, joint pain, and muscle aches for around a day.

Patricia Stinchfield of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, representing the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners at a November meeting of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said “these are immune responses, so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that. And when you do, it's normal that you have some arm soreness or some fatigue or some body aches or even some fever.”

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association said at the meeting that “we really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park. They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they've got to come back for that second dose.”

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain similar ingredients, and use messenger RNA to encode a part of the spike protein gene in COVID-19 (it gets its name from its crown-like spike structure). Both require a second injection within weeks of the initial dose, though other pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson are working on single-dose vaccines.

A CDC advisory panel issued recommendations this week that healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccines become available.

Once the vaccines have FDA approval, millions of Americans can expect to be vaccinated, said Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, sharing that the current timeline projects 20 million Americans vaccinated in December, an additional 30 million in January, and 50 million more in February.

The majority of Americans will be able to get vaccinated later in the spring. “Hopefully, by the middle of the year, I hope most Americans will have been immunized,” Slaoui said, per the Washington Post. “If enough people are immunized, we should have this pandemic under control in the second half of 2021.”

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