You may have read that the unprecedented Deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK and the US experienced some initial hurdles. In just over a week since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine emergency clearance for some groups at highest risk of COVID, such as health workers and residents of nursing homes, there are already had distribution problems and disparate and confusing policies on who exactly the first doses should go to.
None of this is unexpected, given the extremely complex nature of this project and the range of actors who must work together to ensure a successful vaccination campaign. But one thing that may give Americans pause as the effort unfolds is the wave of initial reports of side effects. experienced by some of the first people in the UK and US to receive doses from Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, including health workers.
At least two health professionals in Alaska developed severe reactions, including one who had to be hospitalized. Two other healthcare workers in the UK developed similar symptoms, including anaphylactic symptoms, but most workers recovered quickly from their symptoms, including one in just over an hour. More of these stories will inevitably spread, because the vaccine is so new and the large number of people, all with different biological peccadilloes, are expected to take it eventually. (We’ll find out in the coming months when other groups can get their picture taken, which will likely depend on where you live.)
An allergic reaction certainly sounds like an unpleasant prospect, but if it dissuades you from getting the vaccine, it shouldn’t. Instead, you should keep an eye out for potential side effects and be prepared to possibly take a day or two off if they turn out to be severe.
Although side effects are possible and can being severe, they tend not to be debilitating in most people without a serious history of allergies or inflammatory problems. There is a lot of evidence for this, both from the large-scale clinical trials of Pfizer and Moderna and from the conclusions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That said, side effects are quite common, according to the CDC report. By far the most common is some pain at the site of the first COVID vaccine injection, which is usually done in the arm. In a trial of the Pfizer vaccine compared with a placebo, more than 83% of people aged 18 to 55 reported experiencing this side effect.
But 51.1% of study participants said the pain at the injection site was mild; another 30% indicated it was moderate. Severe and more was limited to 1%. Other side effects such as redness and swelling were much rarer. According to the CDC, other common problems, which lasted for a median of about a day, included fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches (although mild to moderate side effects affect age groups. vary).
Healthy skepticism is understandable. But healthcare experts note that getting a COVID vaccine is still more important than risking getting COVID-19 itself. This last option is much more precarious.
An expert, Dr Melanie Swift of the Mayo Clinic, recently said Fortune that its own health system has developed a grid of side effects linked to COVID vaccines compared to those linked to active coronavirus infections, in order to maintain a depleted workforce as much as possible.
So how do these (usually) mild to medium, (usually) brief side effects compare to the symptoms that strike you when you actually get the disease?
“When the virus causes symptoms, the most common symptoms are fever, body aches, dry cough, fatigue, chills, headache, sore throat, loss of appetite and loss of smell”. according to a guide from Harvard Medical School. “In some people, COVID-19 causes more severe symptoms like a high fever, severe cough and shortness of breath, which often indicates pneumonia. People with COVID-19 also have neurological, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, or both. These can occur with or without respiratory symptoms. “
There have been more than 17.5 million cases of coronavirus and 315,000 COVID-related deaths in the United States to date. It’s more than five times as many deaths in the highest range of CDC estimates for annual influenza-related deaths since 2010.
These figures argue even more in favor of the risk of getting vaccinated.
More health and Big Pharma coverage of Fortune:
- The deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is dangerously flawed. Science and data could fix it
- How? ‘Or’ What hackers could undermine successful vaccine deployment
- “There is simply no confidence”: the fight to win vaccine skepticism in the black community
- You can now get custom updates on Zocdoc’s COVID vaccine
- Here is how much Europe will pay for each COVID-19 vaccine