COVID-19 Vaccines: Safety, Side Effects – and Serendipity – Harvard Health Blog


With the outbreak spreading, it is becoming increasingly clear that widespread vaccination is necessary to help contain it. Physical spacing, comprehensive face coverings, and frequent hand washing are all effective, but they’re not guaranteed. Of course, these procedures do not work if not followed.

So, the rapid development MRNA vaccines Other vaccines to prevent COVID-19 are welcome – some say it’s a miracle – news. But while many people are flocking to get a vaccine, others hesitate.

Start here: Are these vaccines safe and effective?

It is natural to wonder whether the new vaccines against the new corona virus, which were developed with unprecedented speed, are effective and safe to take. Let’s review some of what we know.

Overall effectiveness has been reported in the range of 70% to 95%. This is much higher than the average effectiveness of a flu shot, for example.

  • a Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine experiment Nearly 44,000 volunteers found the vaccination to be 95% effective. This vaccine is approved for use in the United States.
  • a Moderna vaccine trial More than 30,000 volunteers registered 94% effectiveness. This vaccine is approved for use in the United States.
  • that The AstraZeneca / Oxford Vaccine Trial I report an average effectiveness of 70% with full doses, but better results (up to 90%) with a lower dose. This vaccine is approved for use in Great Britain, but not in the United States.
  • In a press release, Johnson and Johnson Reported an overall effectiveness of 66% in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. The company has applied for a license for emergency use in the United States.

Not only do these vaccines appear to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, but they also appear to reduce the risk of developing serious diseases.

What are the most common side effects of the COVID vaccine?

In large clinical trials, most of the side effects were minor. When side effects do occur, they usually only last a few days. By the way, a side effect or reaction is not necessarily a bad one; It may indicate that the body is building protection against the virus.

For the four vaccines listed above, common side effects include

  • Pain at the injection site
  • A painful swelling of the lymph nodes in the arm where the vaccine was injected
  • fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fever or chills.

What else should I know about the possible side effects?

  • Severe allergic reactions. Rarely, a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis may develop, most often in people known to have had severe reactions to a vaccine in the past. CDC estimates Indicated an incidence of anaphylaxis in 11 cases per million doses among subjects receiving the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. Signs are difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, a rash, and low blood pressure. It usually occurs soon after vaccination, and can be treated with epinephrine (as is the case with an adrenaline injection pen). That is why people are observed for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine with adrenaline at ready.
  • Unexplained deaths. A recent report Of the 23 deaths among elderly vaccine recipients in Norway, safety concerns have raised understandable new COVID-19 vaccines. However, further investigation is needed to determine whether these deaths are related to vaccines, or represent the expected number of deaths among vulnerable individuals who may already have a limited life expectancy.

Addressing two vaccine misconceptions

It is normal to feel wary about any new treatment. But there are two common misconceptions that may encourage people to avoid getting the COVID vaccine.

  • Health problems improperly blamed the vaccine. When health problems develop soon after vaccination, people tend to blame the vaccine. However, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, blood disorders and rare diseases did occur before the pandemic and of course it will continue to happen. Many people are expected to develop such health problems whether or not they are vaccinated. If a thorough investigation shows the occurrence of certain health problems at a Higher than normal Modified, the vaccine can be blamed. If not, it is likely an unfortunate coincidence not related to the vaccine, for example, rare cases of Bell’s palsy and other neurological diseases It was reported after the COVID vaccination. But so far, there is no clear indication that the vaccine played any role. Likewise, A. A Florida doctor suffered from a fatal blood disorder Two weeks after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine raised concerns that the vaccine had released it. Authorities are investigating this and similar cases. This condition has not occurred among tens of thousands of people in clinical trials, so it may be quite a coincidence.
  • Fears that the vaccine could cause COVID-19. That cannot happen, because there is no live SARS-CoV-2 virus used in vaccines currently available or vaccines under development. If someone catches COVID-19 soon after vaccination, this is not due to the vaccine. Either because the vaccine failed (which is fairly rare), or because the infection appeared before the vaccine had a chance to work. In fact, some people may already have the virus at the time of vaccination.

The bottom line

So far, we know COVID-19 is an unpredictable and potentially deadly disease. The information we have about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines is encouraging. Minor side effects should be expected; Rarely, severe allergic reactions occur. Vaccine side effects are not reasons for most people to avoid vaccination.

Due to the increase in the number of vaccine recipients and the number of different vaccines, vigilance is justified. What we know today about side effects and safety will not be the last word. Volunteers in clinical trials and members of the public who received vaccines continue to be monitored, and they are Encourage reporting problems.

There are pros and cons to any new medical treatment. But remember there are also pros and cons Back down Therapy. Based on my reading of currently available information, the decision to vaccinate against COVID-19 should be an easy one.

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