COVID-19 vaccines: Safety, side effects and more

COVID-19 is an unpredictable and deadly disease. Vaccination against the virus is the best thing that bears semblance to a promising solution for this situation. Ever since the vaccine roll-out in December 2020, millions of people have been administered doses against SARS-CoV-2. Some of these people have experienced side effects after receiving the vaccine. However, none of these are causes for alarm or something that should prevent you from getting vaccinated.

Side effects are just indications that your body is preparing immunity against the virus. Some people may not show any side effects at all. Everyone is affected differently, and it is best not to panic if you experience minimal side effects. Get in touch with a doctor if these symptoms persist for more than the prescribed time. Immediate reactions may also occur in unusual cases. This is why it is essential that you do not skip the observation period at the vaccination centre after getting the shot.

Is it normal to develop these side effects?

A question that is making rounds in most conversations these days is- what are the side effects associated with the vaccines, and should they be a cause of worry?

People should expect mild to moderate side effects in the few days following the vaccination. These effects will disappear on their own in a few days. Some of the side effects that are being commonly observed in vaccinated people include-

  • Fever
  • Body ache
  • Pain, redness, and swelling on the site of vaccination
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea

It is absolutely normal for you to experience these side effects. After administering the vaccine dose, the health workers keep the recipient under observation for 15 to 30 minutes at the vaccination site. This is done to make sure that any immediate unexpected reaction to the vaccine may be taken care of by the healthcare professionals.

What causes these side effects?

Side effects to the vaccine are essentially considered to be a good sign. This immune response is triggered by an antigen present in the vaccine. The blood flow in the body is increased to increase the circulation of the defensive immune cells in the body. This can lead to an increase in body temperature, which can consequently show up as fever. The side effects are pointers that your immune system is functioning properly and is gearing up to fight against the infection.

On the contrary, you may not experience any side effects at all. This does not imply that your body’s immune system is not working or the vaccine is ineffective. Every individual is bound to have a varying immune response to the vaccine. It is also observed that the side effects may be more prominent after receiving the second dose. These effects will also subside on their own after a few days.

 Are there any long-term effects associated with the vaccines?

Side effects after the vaccine are observed within the first few days. No long-term side effects of the vaccine are known. Government and healthcare institutions are monitoring the vaccine administration closely to keep track of any unexpected side effects of the vaccine.

After the vaccine, your body will require some time (a few weeks) to build immunity against the virus. There are chances of the person getting affected by the virus even after the vaccination. Therefore it is important to take appropriate precautions after getting the vaccine to make sure that you remain safe from the virus until your body has had enough time to build up immunity against the virus.

There also have been misconceptions about the vaccine causing COVID-19. None of the vaccines contains live viruses, so the concerns about the vaccine making people infected with the virus are baseless. You can be assured that any of the approved vaccines will not infect your body with the virus. However, you need to make sure that you follow the required protocols and procedures to avoid contracting the disease even after getting vaccinated. 

Relieving the side effects of the vaccine

While it is highly likely that the side effects will diminish on their own in a few days, you can also consult your doctor about medications that can help. You can choose to take over-the-counter medications at the advice of a healthcare professional to relieve the side effects.

 Rare side effects

In extremely rare cases, severe side effects may be observed in a person. These include unexpected events such as allergic reactions like anaphylaxis or side effects lasting more than three days. In such situations, it is critical to immediately consult a healthcare professional for further information and treatment. Other cases where you should seek professional help is when redness or pain at the spot where you got the shot keeps worsening with time.

Such severe reactions may occur immediately after vaccination. This is why it is suggested to stay at the vaccination site for 15-30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. These allergic reactions to the vaccine are characterized by symptoms like difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, pain in the throat, rashes on the body, or low blood pressure. The condition is curable and requires epinephrine, which is being made available at vaccination centres.

 In Conclusion

Encountering any side effects after getting vaccinated should be expected. However, these shouldn’t be the reason for you to avoid vaccination. Severe allergic reactions have a rare chance of occurring. Consult your doctor in case you experience such side effects.

The side effects are markers that show that your immune system responds effectively and the vaccine is functioning. The effects will reduce in severity in a few days. The vaccines are safe, and they are your best shot at protection against COVID-19. It is essential to follow all the prescribed guidelines until you are fully vaccinated and sometime after that to ensure that you do not acquire the infection.

Dr. Mukesh Sharma | Consultant – Internal Medicine | MMI Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Raipur

Narayana Health

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