- Coronavirus vaccines will soon be available to the general public, but people need to be aware that they aren’t going to “feel wonderful” after being injected.
- Vaccines trigger an immune response in the body which can result in symptoms such as soreness, headaches, and fever, none of which should concern patients.
- It will be important for doctors to warn patients of the side effects before they take the vaccine, and important for those who take the vaccine to let everyone else know that the side effects aren’t so bad.
The US is in the midst of its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began in March, but recent vaccine news has given us our first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have all shared preliminary results from their Phase 3 vaccine trials, and the candidates are even safer and more effective than the scientific community had hoped they would be, suggesting that we could soon return to normal.
Of course, in order for us to escape this nightmare, people have to take the vaccines once they are made available, but it’s important for everyone to understand that they might not feel great after being injected. As a number of health experts explained during a meeting this week, people need to be prepared for the side effects.
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“As a practicing physician, I have got to be sure my patients will come back for the second dose. We really have got to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” said Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of Emory University’s School of Medicine when the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met on Monday. “They are going to know they got a vaccine. They are not going to feel wonderful.”
As CNN notes, the point of a vaccine is to cause an immune response in the body, and that response can lead to flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headaches, and even a fever. Much like the flu vaccine, the coronavirus vaccine might take you out of commission for a day or two, but this is a feature of the vaccine, not a bug.
“These are immune responses, so if you feel something after vaccination, you should expect to feel that. And when you do, it’s normal that you have some arm soreness or some fatigue or some body aches or even some fever,” said Patricia Stinchfield of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She added that healthcare providers need to be prepared to explain the potential side effects to people getting the vaccine, and warned that some people might feel bad enough after receiving a dose of the vaccine that they need to take a day off work to recover.
As we’ve reported on multiple occasions, a distressing number of Americans say that they are unwilling to get the vaccine when it is made available in the months ahead. Knowing that it will make them sick, even temporarily, could be yet another hurdle to skeptical Americans getting inoculated, which is why it’s so important that the early adopters talk about their experience with the vaccine and make it clear that the pros outweigh the cons.
“The people who highly value getting the vaccine soon and fast, early, are going to be really helpful to everyone else,” said Dr. Paul Hunter of the city of Milwaukee health department at the CDC meeting. “And I think we really are going to need to honor them, because they are going to let us know how it feels. And I think these people are likely to be health care workers who are likely to be up for that kind of task.”