Doctors help ease fears over COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 6:42 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If you are next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine or maybe have already received it; you might be asking yourself, are the side effects harmful? Or when should you contact a doctor?

Common side effects are expected after getting the vaccine, says Dr. Kathryn Neupert, Allergist, and Immunologist with Our Lady of the Lake.

Dr. Neupert adds those side effects can include pain at the injection site. Arm soreness can occur shortly after getting the vaccine and up to 72 hours later, she says. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue, fever, and generally not feeling well.

Dr. Barbara Griffith, President/CEO of Woman’s Hospital says she got the COVID-19 vaccine last week. The leader of Woman’s Hospital says she had soreness at the injection site for about 2-3 days, but they went away.

“So when you have a side effect after a vaccine, that’s just your body telling you that the vaccine is doing its job. The vaccine is working and you’re starting to have that reaction in your body that helps build the immunity that you need,” said Dr. Griffith. “So it’s very normal to have side effects after a vaccine. You may remember getting a tetanus shot in the past and feeling that your arm aches for a few days after that. So, side effects are very expected and as long as they’re mild, they’re very easy to tolerate.”

All of those symptoms should be short-lived or mild, lasting one day or up to 3 days later but, after that, it should go away, experts say.

Health experts say if the pain is significant take an over-the-counter pain reliever, after consulting with your physician.

Dr. Neupert says the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are both remarkably effective at decreasing symptomatic COVID-19 infections, however, since his vaccine is new preventative measures are still necessary.

“Because it’s so new the studies just haven’t had time to suss out whether or not the vaccines prevent the ability to be infected number one or the ability to transmit the virus. So, for that reason at least 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Everyone still needs to be wearing a mask just to prevent those cases of asymptomatic transmission of the virus.”

Dr. Griffith says it’s an exciting time to have a vaccine available, but there is still significant spread throughout the community.

Both doctors are encouraging individuals to wash their hands, keep a distance from people not in their household, and practice good hygiene. Those preventative measures can help control the spread of infection beyond just vaccination, Dr. Griffith adds.

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