Some people can’t wait to roll up their sleeves and get the upcoming coronavirus vaccine so life can “go back to normal.” Others are absolutely terrified of the shot and its potential side effects.
And then there are a lot of folks who are feeling something in between.
Regardless of where you are on that scale, I can assure you of one thing. I’m not here to tell you what you SHOULD, or SHOULDN’T, do. Because the last thing in the world you need is yet one more nag in your life.
Whether or not to get the coronavirus vaccine is a decision for you to make in consultation with your doctor. And based on your knowledge… your life… and your risks. MY job is to help inform you so that you can make the best choice possible.
If you, like me, believe you WILL get the shot, there are some common-sense things you should consider before rolling up your sleeve. Chief among those is what you should do to prepare for the vaccine and what you should expect in terms of side effects.
After all, every vaccine does have potential side effects. It does no one any good to pretend they don’t. But the good news is the data we already have revealed what we might expect. And you know I’m always honest with you, so I won’t sugarcoat things. This vaccine does have some potential doozies.
What to expect AFTER a coronavirus vaccine
As with any other medical treatment, the reactions to the coronavirus vaccine can range from nothing at all to some more serious stuff. Overall, experts say the typical potential side effects appear to be somewhat more common than a flu shot but similar in nature.
About half the patients in the Moderna trial experienced side effects. And the early trials for the Pfizer shot found slightly more than half the volunteers reported side effects.
Overall, up to 15 percent have what Operation Warp Speed Chief Scientific Adviser Moncef Slaoui said on TV would be “quite noticeable” side effects. Studies show that around two percent of patients may feel pretty miserable like they have a “bad flu,” according to some trial participants.
Statistically speaking, that means once the vaccine rolls out to the general population, millions will likely experience the kinds of side effects we’re typically warned we may have with a vaccine like the flu shot.
Although we don’t have all the final topline results yet, we do have some data from the trials about a few specific side effects.
- redness/swelling /sore arm (2 percent with Moderna)
- fatigue (3.8 percent with Pfizer, 9.7 percent with Moderna)
- pain (4.1 percent with Moderna)
- headache (2 percent with Pfizer, 4.5 percent with Moderna)
- body ache/muscle pain (8.8 percent with Moderna)
- joint pain (5.2 percent with Moderna)
Others could include the standard chills and fever. In fact, one volunteer in the trial experienced the “worst-case scenario” reaction with a fever spiking up to 104.9 overnight. But by the next morning, all her side effects had retreated. She was only left with a little soreness where she’d been injected.
Since the first coronavirus shots will require two doses, that’s double the odds you’ll feel at least something on that list above. And the early word is that the second shot is often the “worse” one, in terms of how you’ll feel afterward.
Prepare for some unknown vaccine side effects
The bottom line? Basically, don’t make any big plans for shot day in case you need to hunker down and get some rest. Make sure there are some ice packs in the freezer in case your arm hurts. And in the rare case that you might need it stock up on some over-the-counter meds for pain and fever relief.
Most side effects resolve within 24 hours, but they can linger. So certainly, if anything feels really wrong, call your doctor.
Bear in mind that this not just a very new vaccine. The mRNA shots, in particular, are an entirely new TYPE of vaccine.
We don’t know much about them yet, and we’re still learning more. There are some concerns about inflammation or autoimmune reactions in folks who turn out to be sensitive to them. Undoubtedly, we’ll hear more about the possible risks and side effects in the coming weeks and months beyond what we already know.
So before you get a shot – whether it’s next week or further down the road – be sure to get the latest information and advice from your own doctor to make sure you’re up-to-date. And I’ll be sure to share whatever new information comes to light about this new vaccine here in Healthier Talk, too.
UPDATE: As of today 1/6/2021 there were 29 confirmed cases of anaphylaxis linked to the new vaccines. None of the cases was fatal. The risk of anaphylaxis with the new coronavirus vaccines is 10 times higher than with the common flu shot. But the overall number of reactions is still considered low.