COVID-19 vaccine unwanted effects: What’s regular and what to look out for

Sarah Tew/CNET
For probably the most up-to-date information and details about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

To date, the obtainable COVID-19 vaccines have a reasonably strong monitor file, particularly for a fast-tracked vaccine. Nonetheless, vaccine fears and myths abound, and tales about unwanted effects (inflated or not) incite worry amongst many. 

On this article, be taught what to anticipate if you happen to get the COVID-19 vaccine, whether or not you get the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson model — and methods to report unwanted effects to the CDC.

Learn extra: Is the COVID-19 vaccine free?

Normal vaccine unwanted effects

All vaccines have attainable unwanted effects with gentle to reasonable severity. Typical vaccine unwanted effects embody native ache, swelling, redness and generally bruising on the injection web site, in addition to fever and tiredness, says Dr. Roshni Mathew, pediatric infectious ailments doctor at Stanford Kids’s Well being. 

With any vaccination, you’ll be able to anticipate a little bit of ache throughout and after the injection, says Dr. Thomas Duszynski, director of epidemiology training at Indiana College. He provides that some individuals could expertise chills, fatigue or minor complications after vaccines. 


Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Lengthy Island Jewish Medical Heart, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Dec. 14 in Queens, New York.

Mark Lennihan/Getty Photos

Reported COVID-19 vaccine unwanted effects

In accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, frequent COVID-19 vaccine unwanted effects embody: 

  • Injection web site ache
  • Injection web site swelling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Tiredness

Pfizer vaccine unwanted effects

Individuals who get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will probably expertise soreness, redness and swelling on the injection web site, and doubtlessly chills and fatigue. The Meals and Drug Administration lists a few further unwanted effects for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine particularly, together with muscle ache, joint ache, nausea and swollen lymph nodes. 

The FDA notes that most individuals skilled these unwanted effects after the second dose of the vaccine

Moderna vaccine unwanted effects

For the Moderna vaccine as effectively, frequent unwanted effects stay typical: injection web site ache and swelling, chills, fever, fatigue and headache (learn the FDA’s briefing right here). In a firm launch summing up the Part 3 medical trial evaluation, Moderna reported that “no severe adversarial occasions have been famous within the trial.” 

Typically, most individuals report worse unwanted effects after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, each of that are mRNA vaccinations.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine unwanted effects

Essentially the most just lately accepted COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — generally known as the Janssen vaccine — solely requires one dose as opposed by the 2 doses required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

In accordance with the FDA, probably the most generally reported unwanted effects of the Janssen vaccine are complications, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches and injection web site soreness. In accordance with medical trial information, most individuals skilled these unwanted effects within the one to 2 days following injection.

Hives have been additionally reported in six medical trial members, certainly one of whom obtained a placebo shot. One “hypersensitivity response, not labeled as anaphylaxis,” was reported and deemed probably associated to the vaccine.

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine unwanted effects

This vaccine has not but obtained emergency use authorization from the FDA, however some unwanted effects have been reported in medical trials thus far. 

Within the medical trial outcomes printed in The Lancet, gentle to reasonable unwanted effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine have been just like gentle unwanted effects from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Of notice, the AstraZeneca vaccine trial was placed on maintain after a volunteer developed neurological dysfunction signs.

Trials resumed after a security evaluate confirmed the signs have been unrelated to the vaccine. It is not unusual for medical trials to pause for security critiques, as diseases can happen by probability throughout massive, long-term research. 

There are a number of different COVID-19 vaccines within the works, and of people who have reported information up to now, frequent unwanted effects embody injection web site ache and swelling, fever, fatigue, complications, chills and nausea — nothing irregular.  

Methods to report COVID-19 vaccine unwanted effects

The CDC launched a instrument that permits individuals who have obtained one or two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine to trace and report unwanted effects. The instrument, known as V-Protected After Vaccination Well being Checker, makes use of messaging and survey capabilities to routinely examine in on individuals after they get vaccinated. You’ll be able to join V-Protected in your smartphone after getting the vaccine. You may want your vaccine information useful, together with which kind of vaccine you obtained and the date and time you obtained it. Utilizing the chat perform, you’ll be able to inform the instrument your unwanted effects. Somebody from the CDC could name you and ask for extra info if you happen to report extreme or uncommon unwanted effects.

Extreme unwanted effects

Few extreme unwanted effects from COVID-19 vaccines have been reported, in response to the FDA and CDC. Within the UK, two individuals with identified, extreme allergy symptoms suffered allergic reactions after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and each recovered. On Dec.15 a well being care employee in Alaska skilled a extreme allergic response to the Pfizer vaccine however has since recovered. She had no earlier allergic reactions to vaccines.

Through the Pfizer medical trials, no extreme allergic reactions have been reported among the many 40,000-plus trial volunteers. Though extreme allergic reactions are more likely to be uncommon, “It will be essential for people with identified allergy symptoms to talk with their well being care supplier previous to receiving the vaccine,” Duszynski says.

The CDC recommends an intensive threat evaluation and potential deferral of the vaccine for individuals with a historical past of extreme allergy symptoms to different vaccines, and avoidance of vaccination by individuals with a historical past of extreme allergy symptoms to any substances within the COVID-19 vaccines.

Some severe adversarial occasions have been reported from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, together with extreme arm ache at and across the injection web site that lasted for 74 days in a single affected person, in addition to extreme fatigue and weak spot lasting three days in a single affected person. The FDA says these occasions are probably associated to the vaccine, however that they didn’t happen at frequencies greater throughout medical trials than what’s possible for the final inhabitants (in different phrases, it is nothing to be alarmed about). 

COVID-19 vaccine and Bell’s Palsy 


The FDA is monitoring for added circumstances of Bell’s Palsy.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Individuals are sounding alarms on social media as a result of 4 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial members developed a situation known as Bell’s Palsy through the trials. Bell’s Palsy includes momentary weak spot or paralysis within the facial muscular tissues, which definitely sounds scary, however all 4 volunteers have since recovered (most individuals with Bell’s Palsy get well absolutely inside weeks to a few months). 

The FDA briefing on the Pfizer vaccine stories “the 4 circumstances within the vaccine group don’t signify a frequency above that anticipated within the common inhabitants,” so no causal relationship might be decided. The FDA is continuous to watch for circumstances of Bell’s Palsy because the vaccine is distributed extra extensively.

Why do vaccines trigger unwanted effects?

Negative effects like fever, chills and fatigue after a vaccination point out that your immune system is responding to the vaccine, Duszynski says. “Even if you happen to do not expertise these [side effects], it doesn’t imply that your immune system is not working; it’s simply working a little bit extra quietly,” he says. 

As for bruising, swelling and sensitivity on the injection web site, effectively, your physique would probably reply equally after a needle punctured your pores and skin for every other objective. These unwanted effects can happen after any vaccine, in addition to when individuals get blood drawn or obtain steroid photographs or vitamin injections.

How lengthy do vaccine unwanted effects final?


Sometimes, vaccine unwanted effects solely final a few days.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sometimes, vaccine unwanted effects do not last more than a few days, Mathew says. Some individuals could expertise unwanted effects for a number of days. Negative effects that have been associated on to the injection web site, like bruising and redness, ought to subside comparatively rapidly, whereas whole-body unwanted effects like fever and headache could last more.

In the event you’re nonetheless having unwanted effects every week or extra after you get a vaccine — COVID-19 or in any other case — name your physician or go to pressing care. In the event you really feel the consequences are life-threatening (like a extreme allergic response), search emergency medical care immediately.

Are there long-term unwanted effects from any of the COVID-19 vaccines?

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At this level, it is manner too early to find out whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines trigger long-term unwanted effects, though consultants are assured the vaccines are protected. The CDC, WHO, FDA and different well being establishments will proceed to watch long-term results and accumulate information as extra individuals get vaccinated.

The knowledge contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t meant as well being or medical recommendation. At all times seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you’ll have a couple of medical situation or well being targets.

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