COVID-19 vaccine side effects are no reason to avoid it, doctor says

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Americans will likely experience at least one side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors say that’s normal and you should still get vaccinated.

Dr. W.J. Many Jr., dean of the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus of the UAB School of Medicine, said side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine will be similar to what you’d experience with the flu shot.

“Low grade fever, perhaps headache, some muscle aches, and joint aches,” Many said. “And maybe just not feeling too spiffy for about 24 to 48 hours.”

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines require two shots. Moderna’s two doses are administered a month apart, while Pfizer’s are given three weeks apart.

Many said it is more common to experience side effects after the second dose of the vaccine. Side effects, he said, are normal and indicates that the vaccine is working.

“In a strange way that’s good that you have those symptoms because it means that you are generating the antibodies to protect yourself from future infection of the coronavirus,” Many said.

If you have side effects after the first shot, Many says not to fear getting the second dose, as it is the most important one.

“If you have some mild side effects after the first shot, that is not a reason not to get the second shot,” Many said. “You’ve got to come back. The second shot is the one that really gives you that extra boost to provide immunity.”

Many said the good news is that so far there has not been reports of any serious side effect complications from the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As far as a serious complication, like a neurological complication, thus far they’ve had no evidence in both of the trials,” Many said.

In Moderna’s Phase 3 trials, the company said the most common side effects were fatigue, muscle soreness and aches, joint pain, headache, and pain, redness or swelling at the injection site.

“There may be some discomfort at the injection site, but thus far injection site reactions have not been a major concern for the participants in the vaccine trials thus far,” Many said.

In Pfizer/BioNTech Phase 3 trials, the probability of getting fatigued or a headache was 3.8% and 2%, respectively.

Experts say we’ll know more details about who is more likely to experience what side effects when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finishes reviewing the Phase 3 trial data for both vaccines and releases that information to the public. The earliest this could happen is Dec. 10.

When will the vaccine be here? Many says vaccines are already on their way.

“I would be surprised if we don’t see hospital personnel in Montgomery starting to receive vaccine’s sometime in the third week of December,” Many said.

Front-line workers and the chronically ill will be first to receive the vaccine, followed by physicians in clinics, those at highest risk to contracting the virus, and then the rest of the population. Many predicted that the group last to receive the vaccine will likely get it by late winter or early spring.

Many said when the vaccine is here, we should all take it if we ever want to see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for those that you love and care about,” Many said. “If you protect yourself, you are protecting them. I think it is the moral and ethical thing to do, to get this, to prevent further spread of this horrible pandemic.”

Vaccine testing from Pfizer and Moderna have shown positive results with high effectiveness rates.

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