It has been a long year of pandemic-related crisis after crisis, and now citizens see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. With the vaccines hitting the market and becoming more widely available, many are wondering about common COVID-19 Vaccine reactions.
Fortunately, the FDA was able to use the Emergency Use Authorization, and the vaccine manufacturers worked together to be a part of the solution in public health.
Therefore, while there might be some physical reactions for some adults taking the vaccine, the good far outweighs the bad.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information: What Is COVID-19?
The coronavirus causes the infectious disease we know as COVID-19.
Those who become infected with this virus have varying degrees of respiratory illness. While many people recover without needing medical interventions, older adults and those with other health conditions are more likely to need medical help to get better.
How Did the COVID Vaccine Get Developed So Quickly?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) usually takes a more extended amount of time to approve drugs and medications.
However, the FDA can rely on the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The EUA gives the FDA the ability to respond to situations such as a public health crisis with speed.
On February 4, 2020, the Health and Human Services Secretary decided that the situation with COVID was enough of a threat to public health. Therefore, drug manufacturers were able to submit EUA to the FDA.
Also, we have available a lot of newer technology to create vaccines than ever before. We do not need a live virus to produce the vaccine in the lab because of this technology. The availability of technology makes these vaccines effective and safe.
Plus, there is a tremendous amount of money available to develop these vaccines in the interest of public health. The availability of money creates an opportunity for vaccines to be available quickly.
Did we rush the vaccines?
While manufacturers got the vaccines done relatively quickly, it did not compromise safety. The clinical trials still met the rigorous standards expected by the FDA.
Also, there were three phases of the clinical trials. Therefore, by the time the FDA got to the last phase, all the data about safety problems with the vaccine came together.
One of the FDA’s jobs is to look at the vaccine itself, the control groups in the trials, and all the data gathered.
Also, the drug companies, who are usually competitors, did work together to ensure each other’s success because they understand how important it is to have enough vaccines. So, while the vaccines came together quickly, the FDA did approve emergency measures, and the drug companies worked together in the interest of public health.
Therefore, the vaccines are safe and rigorously tested.
How Effective Are the COVID-19 Vaccines?
Before discussing common COVID-19 Vaccine reactions, you must look at the different COVID-19 vaccines and their effectiveness.
There are currently three options for the COVID-19 vaccine, and while they have different rates of effectiveness, they all prevent severe illness and death.
Also, as we stop the spread of this virus, the virus loses the opportunity to mutate, which leads to even worse problems for public health.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccine
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are what is called a Messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). This vaccine gives your cells a message that tells them to make a specific piece of protein.
This protein’s name is the S protein. The S protein is the red spikey part you see in the pictures of the virus.
So, when your cells get a message to create this S protein, your body makes them. When your body makes this protein, it triggers your body to develop antibodies. All those new antibodies will fight the virus on your behalf.
The Pfizer vaccine is 95 percent effective after having two doses of the vaccine.
Also, the Moderna vaccine is 94.1 percent effective after the second dose.
Pfizer and Moderna are both effective across all age groups.
In addition, Moderna was a little less effective in those who are 65 years old or older. However, there were fewer people in that age group in the clinical trial, so the FDA’s evaluation was that the differences were too small to worry about.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) began working on their vaccine, and it came out later than both Moderna and Pfizer.
J&J is a vector vaccine, which means some genetic material from the live virus is weakened, and after injected, it causes your cells to make copies of the S protein. So, instead of a messenger telling your cells to make that protein, a weakened version of the vaccine does that job.
The J&J vaccine is a single dose vaccine and is 66 percent effective 3 weeks after having the shot.
Right now, J&J is studying the efficacy of the vaccine with a second dose eight weeks apart. However, we must wait to see those test results.
Why Are Older Adults at the Front of the Line for Vaccines?
The older you are, the easier it is to become very ill from the coronavirus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention wants those who are 65 or older to be the first to receive the vaccine.
Also, older adults have a higher risk of death than younger people who get COVID-19.
Even more, older adults tend to have more chronic illnesses and comorbidities that make them even more at risk for serious COVID-19 issues.
One reason older adults have more chronic diseases is that the immune system ages and slows. When the immune system slows down, it is harder to fight infections and heal.
What Do I Need to Consider Along with Common COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions?
It is ideal to speak with your medical provider about your risk level.
For instance, if you take medication to suppress your immune system after an organ transplant, you must discuss getting the vaccine with your doctor. In this case, a vaccine is necessary.
Additionally, as science uncovers more and more information during these unprecedented times, your doctor is a good source of valid information. And when you speak with your doctor, you can review any allergies and how they might interact with the vaccine.
Beyond allergies, you can discuss any bleeding disorders or the use of blood thinners, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have a current fever.
However, after the vaccine injection, health professionals observe for reactions. If you happen to have a known allergy, you will likely be kept longer for observation.
Fortunately, the risk of an allergic reaction to the vaccine is minimal. Much of how people feel post-vaccine is their body’s natural immune response.
However, if you have an adverse reaction to the first dose, you will want to have a different COVID-19 immunization for your second dose.
What Are Common COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions?
Some adults notice similar common COVID-19 vaccine reactions after receiving the injection, which is a natural response as the body builds immunity.
Fortunately, common COVID-19 vaccine reactions were fewer with older adults compared to the younger population.
Common COVID-19 vaccine reactions with the Pfizer vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine has the following ingredients:
- Lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
- 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
- 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine and cholesterol)
- Potassium chloride
- Monobasic potassium phosphate
- Sodium chloride
- Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
The clinical trials show most of the side effects are reactogenicity symptoms within the first week for the Pfizer vaccine. Reactogenicity symptoms mean a reaction that is inflammatory because of the vaccine.
However, these reactions were mild. For instance, after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, most of the redness reported was mild. The same reporting is accurate for pain at the injection site and swelling.
Also, mild means that while there was a reaction, it did not get in the way of day-to-day life.
Another interesting point is with these mild reactions after the first injection, those who are older had an easier time. Therefore, adults concerned about common COVID-19 vaccine reactions probably won’t struggle as much with the reactions to vaccines.
However, the reports of reactions are most common after the second dose.
For instance, the redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site are still considered mild after the second vaccine. Also, tiredness, headache, and fever are most common after Pfizer’s second dose. However, fever tends to have a more significant impact on younger people compared to older ones.
Also, it is worth mentioning these symptoms clear up, on average, within the first two days of not feeling well.
As for adverse common COVID-19 vaccine reactions, the number was nearly the same for both the vaccine and placebo groups.
Common COVID-19 vaccine reactions with the Moderna vaccine
The Moderna vaccine has the following ingredients:
- Lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG]
- 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC])
- Tromethamine hydrochloride
- Acetic acid
- Sodium acetate
Similar to the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine might have initial problems with the injection site with redness and swelling. Also, arm pain is not uncommon.
With the second dose, which comes a month later, some report feeling tired, chills, stomach upset, fever, and muscle aches and pains.
Are there differences between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?
Because they both work the same, there are a lot of similarities. Therefore, it might be more clear to discuss their differences.
While both options require 2 doses, the Pfizer vaccine occurs 21 days after the initial dose. On the other hand, the Moderna is 28 days later.
Also, the Moderna vaccine is only for those 18 years old and older; the Pfizer is available for those starting at age 16.
Also, both need cold storage, but Pfizer must stay a lot colder than the Moderna vaccine.
Common COVID-19 vaccine reactions with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Johnson & Johnson vaccines include the following:
- Replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
- Citric acid monohydrate
- Trisodium citrate dihydrate
- 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD)
- Sodium chloride
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is newer to the market, as it received emergency approval in February. However, it underwent rigorous testing.
This vaccine is only one dose. Also, the most common side effects are redness, pain, and swelling of the injection site. This type of reaction begins about two days after the shot and lasts two to three days.
The other effects are the feeling of having the flu, which means aches and tiredness and fever, and stomach problems. However, these effects last only a couple of days as well.
Furthermore, if you are an older person, you are less likely to feel those side effects.
What Is Next?
Many people feel relief after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are essential points to remember before resuming an everyday life.
You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If you had the J&J vaccine, you must wait two weeks after your initial shot since there is only one.
After that waiting period, you can safely be inside with other people who are also fully vaccinated. Also, your gathering can be without masks.
If you find out you came into contact with someone who has the virus, you do not need to worry or stay away from others unless you show symptoms, too.
It is still necessary to continue to protect those around you while we work nationally on getting enough people vaccinated.
You protect others by staying six feet away and wearing a mask when you are in public or hanging out with unvaccinated people. Be especially careful around those who are at high risk for illness.
There are other precautions too, such as washing your hands and getting tested if you feel ill.
The More You Know About Common COVID-19 Vaccine Reactions
As we get older, we find we are at-risk for health problems. Often the risk has an association with an aging immune system.
Because of the coronavirus, there is a national risk to public health, so the FDA could allow drug makers to quickly research vaccines. Also, the availability of funding helps with access to the vaccine.
While the vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe reactions and death due to the coronavirus, there are some common COVID-19 vaccine reactions.
Fortunately, the initial dose of vaccines leads to minimal discomfort. Also, the second dose might cause more reactions, but they tend to clear up within a couple of days.
You should discuss concerns with your doctor, especially if you have concerns about allergic reactions and how you might feel after the vaccines. Plus, talking to your doctor ensures you have accurate and up-to-date information.
How did you feel after your vaccines? Tell us in the comments.