Side Effects Of COVID-19 Vaccine Mild To Moderate: Experts

While the side effects of the COVID -19 vaccine could be alarming to some, medical experts said these are typically mild to moderate, only lasted up to 48 hours reported. Striking a note of reassurance, they say the side effects were an indication that the shot was working. In an interview with MSNBC on January 28, chief White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, had mentioned two effects in particular that he felt should be taken as a welcome sign that one’s immune system was responding to the vaccination. 

According to Fauci, the two particularly unpleasant side effects were not a cause for worry. He explained, because it was being given in the arm, the vaccine gave a systemic reaction. He said one knew that because sometimes after the second dose, one felt a little achy, a little chilly, which indicated that the immune system was really getting revved up.

Side Effects Of COVID-19 Vaccine Mild To Moderate: Experts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, it was because, the two mRNA COVID vaccines currently approved in the U.S., from Pfizer and Moderna, did not inject recipients with inactivated virus. Rather they taught one’s own skin cells to mimic certain COVID virus features to train our immune systems to fight against it later, if needed.

Specifically, the COVID vaccines worked by instructing the cells of the body to recreate their own version of the “spike protein” on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. With more cells creating the spike proteins, our immune systems recognized that the protein did not belong there and began building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happened in natural infection against COVID-19, according to the CDC. So, if one felt the aches and chills that Fauci mentioned, one could rest assured it was just one’s immune system firing up to counter a perceived threat.

1. Pain at injection site

Pain at the injection site was the most common side effect reported by Moderna recipients, with 92 percent experiencing it.

Teresa Bartlett, MD, senior medical officer at medical claims company Sedgwick,  told, there were two types of COVID-19 side effects, while systemic side effects affected broader body function (fever, chills, and aches), local side effects were more common and involved redness, swelling and perhaps some lymph node swelling in the vaccinated arm.

2. Fatigue

If one experienced sudden fatigue following the COVID shot, one should not be worried as about 70 percent of Moderna vaccine recipients reported the side effect. It was the second most common side effect seen.

People might therefore want to schedule their shot when they knew they would have time to rest later, if possible, at the end of the workweek or on a day when the work at office was light. In fact, infectious disease epidemiologist Saskia Popescu, PhD, writing from her own experience of getting the shots, recently observed that people needed to have the ability to take time off post-shot.

3. Headache

This side effect was reported slightly more frequently than joint pain. In Moderna trials 64 percent of patients reported the side effect. The CDC said headaches tended to be more common after the second dose.

A study published in Journal of Virology, had warned that taking over-the-counter pain medication prior to getting the shot may blunt the efficacy of the vaccines, but according to experts, it was fine take them afterward to alleviate the vaccine side effects, including a headache.

4. Joint pain

According to health experts, known medically as arthralgia, it was the fourth most common side effect reported by people who had received the shots: around half of those enrolled in the Moderna trials—46 percent reported experiencing this particular side effect in the hours or days after receiving the shot. 

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