The Possible Side-Effects of the COVID Vaccine

    The Possible Side-Effects of the COVID Vaccine

    Despite the encouragement from medical frontliners and infectious disease experts, many Filipinos are still worried about receiving the vaccines for the SARS-CoV 2. What are the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine?

    Vaccines: The sooner, the better.

    There’s no doubt that the sooner we get the vaccine, the better. According to reports, receiving the vaccine might mean that you are:

    Additionally, being one of the vaccine recipients means you might contribute to “herd immunity,” making it harder for the virus to spread since many people are already protected. Less spread also means less chance for the virus to mutate.

    How important is vaccine efficacy?

    Ever since we heard about the development of COVID-19 vaccines, we have set our eyes on their efficacy. A lot of us believe that the higher the efficacy rate is, the better.

    However, experts highlight that a 95% efficacy rate doesn’t mean that it is 95% effective nor does it point to a 5% chance of contracting the infection. It indicates that under controlled and ideal conditions, the vaccine reduces the risk of infection by up to 95%. The efficacy rate may change depending on who your participants are and where the trials happened.

    possible side-effects of covid vaccine

    On the other hand, effectiveness refers to how the vaccines perform in the “real world.” It takes into account variables that might not be present during the clinical trials. For this reason, a vaccine with high efficacy in the trial could have low effectiveness in the real world.

    Reports say that obtaining the efficacy rate is a crucial part of clinical trials, but having a higher number doesn’t necessarily make a vaccine superior.

    The possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine

    Besides the efficacy, people also worry about the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine.

    Please keep in mind that the vaccines will not cause you to have the infection and will not result in a positive RT-PCR test result. However, they might lead to local symptoms or reactogenic side effects that happen because of the body’s way of building immunity.

    Below are the potential side-effects of COVID-19 vaccines:

    • Pain at the site of injection; might also include redness and swelling.
    • Fever; might come with chills.
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • The feeling of being unwell
    • Less common: swollen lymph nodes, usually in the arm where you got the injection.

    Keep in mind that vaccine side-effects are not necessarily bad. In fact, they could indicate that your body is starting to build immunity against the virus.

    What to do after getting the vaccine shot

    After getting your vaccine shot, the doctor will ask you to stay in the facility for at least 30 minutes. This is to check if you’ll develop immediate and untoward reactions (usually due to allergy).

    Should the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine occur once you’re at home, you can do the following:

    • Apply a cool, wet cloth to the injection site to reduce pain and discomfort.
    • Use or exercise the arm where you got the injection.
    • For fever and the general feeling of being unwell, take plenty of fluids and be sure to have adequate rest.

    It’s hard to determine the severity of the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine for each person. If the effects are making you uncomfortable, you can talk to your doctor about taking medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

    Please do not take these medications before getting the vaccine, as we still do not know how they will affect the vaccine performance.

    When to seek medical help

    While we expect many of the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine, it’s still crucial to know when you should call your doctor.

    Contact your physician if:

    • The redness, swelling, and tenderness on the injection site worsen after 24 hours.
    • The side-effects don’t go away after a couple of days. Case in point: the vaccine-related fever usually occurs within 48 hours after the shot, but it also usually disappears within 2 days. A swollen lymph node, on the other hand, may last longer.
    • There are signs of a delayed allergic reaction such as swelling over the eyelids, shortness of breath, change in voice, rashes
    • Persistent headache
    • Persistent abdominal pain
    • Pain or swelling over the legs

    If, at any point, you start to worry about the possible side-effects of the COVID vaccine, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

    Learn more about COVID-19 here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Ika Villanueva Caperonce, MD

    Infectious Disease · Makati Medical Center

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 12, 2021