4 News Now Q&A: Are your COVID vaccine side effects normal?

Your Questions Answered

Q: Are your COVID vaccine side effects normal? 

A: If you are one of the 78 million people who are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you have probably experienced at least one side effect. But as millions more become eligible for the shot, and with news of the rare Johnson & Johnson reaction, many people want to know which side effects are normal and which should be cause for concern.

We turned to the experts for answers.

How common are COVID vaccine side effects? 

In a study conducted by the CDC, vaccine recipients were asked to complete diaries of their symptoms during the seven days after vaccination. Of the 18 to 55-year-old recipients who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, 16 percent said they experienced fever; 59 percent were fatigued; 52 percent had a headache; and 37 percent said they experienced new or worsening muscle pain.

Pfizer Side Effects

Source CDC

In people 18 to 46-years-old, side effects experienced after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine appeared to be more severe. About 17 percent said they experienced fever; 68 percent were fatigued; 63 percent had a headache; and 61 percent said they experienced new or worsening muscle pain.

Moderna Side Effects

Source CDC

Other side effects like nausea, chills and joint pain are also normal with both vaccines.

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Which side effects are more uncommon? 

The CDC has reported severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in two to five people per million vaccinated. It is an extremely rare side effect, and almost always occurs within 30 minutes of getting a shot.

Even more uncommon are symptoms of blood clots. However, if you have received the Johnson & Johnson shot in the last 2-3 weeks, health experts recommend you look out for things like throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness, sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain or coughing up blood.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

It is also important to note, if you do not experience any side effects after either shot, that is also normal. Not having a reaction does not mean you are not protected.

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