Side effects can be alarming and scary at times, but there is usually no reason they should cause concern. It may put you at ease knowing that medical experts say the COVID-19 vaccine’s side effects are typically mild to moderate, only last up to 48 hours. Side effects actually mean the vaccine is doing its job!
On Jan. 28, during an interview with MSNBC, the nations leading public health official, Anthony Fauci, MD, discussed two side effects in particular that he feels should be welcomed as a sign that your immune system is responding appropriately to the vaccination.
Continue reading to learn about the side effects that are good news!
Dr. Fauci’s Thoughts
Fauci explained aches and chills as the two unpleasant side effects that should not cause worry but should make you feel reassured.
“The vaccine, because you’re giving it in the arm, it gives a systemic reaction. You know that because sometimes after the second dose you feel a little achy, a little chilly, which means the immune system is really getting revved up,” Fauci said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that is simply how the two mRNA COVID vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, work. The vaccines do not inject recipients with an inactivated virus but rather teach our cells to mimic the virus’s specific features. As a result, our immune systems can fight against COIVD-19 later on.
How the mRNA Vaccines Work
The mRNA COVID vaccines that are currently available in the U.S. work by instructing cells to recreate spike protein found on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
More cells begin creating spike proteins, and our immune systems are able to “recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19,” according to the CDC.
With that said, if you experience the aches and chills mentioned by Dr. Fauci, know that it’s just your immune system reacting to the vaccine and preparing to get rid of COVID-19 if it ever tries to infect you.
Are you curious about what other side effects you might experience after getting vaccinated? Continue reading to learn about the most common side effects reported by patients who received the Moderna vaccine.
4. Joint Pain
Joint pain, known as arthralgia in the medical world, is the fourth most common side effect reported by vaccine recipients. Almost half of those enrolled in the Moderna trials experienced this side effect.
Based on reports, headaches seem to be slightly more common than joint pain. More than half of patients in the Moderna trials, 64% to be exact, experienced this side effect in particular. The CDC says headaches are more common after the second dose.
According to a study published in the Journal of Virology, taking over-the-counter pain medication before getting vaccinated could reduce the vaccines’ efficacy. Experts say it’s fine to take them afterward to treat vaccine side effects, but not before.
Sudden exhaustion after receiving the COVID shot is widespread. In fact, it is the second most common side effect reported. Around 70% of Moderna vaccine recipients said they felt fatigued after vaccination.
With this in mind, you may want to consider scheduling your shot on a day when you can rest afterward.
Infectious disease epidemiologist Saskia Popescu, Ph.D., recently urged, “We need to ensure folks have the ability to take time off post-shot.”
1. Pain at the Injection Site
The side effect that comes in as the most common reported by Moderna recipients was pain at the injection site. This pain was experienced by 92% of those vaccinated.
In a Bustle article, Teresa Bartlett, MD, senior medical officer at medical, says the two types of COVID-19 vaccine side effects are systematic and local.
Systemic side effects impact broader body function, such as fever, aches and chills. Local side effects are more common and occur in the vaccinated arm. They include redness, swelling and some lymph node swelling.