Covid vaccine update: The three major side effects from the vaccine

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In the UK, a new mutant strain has been blamed for the surge in coronavirus cases, which scientists believe is 40 to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain. But there is no evidence yet that the mutation has altered the severity of the virus or caused any new symptoms. The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was approved by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Dec 30 and the vaccine rollout began on Jan 4. What are the three most common side effects experienced from the vaccine?

Commonly reported side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include fatigue, headache, and muscle pain.

Fatigue has been reported by roughly 63 percent of research subjects who received the vaccine, while headache and muscle pain have affected about 55 and 38 percent of participants, respectively.

Smaller numbers of participants reported chills, joint pain, or fever following vaccination.

Participants were more likely to report such symptoms following the second dose of the vaccine.

Dr Matthew Heinz said: “[The reaction to the second dose] tends to be a little more of an intense response, which does make sense, considering your immune system has been exposed already.

“It gets hit with another dose of [the vaccine], and it has a sort of quicker and more robust response. That makes a lot of sense immunologically,” he added.

“Of course, we have to continue to monitor going forward.”

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“In clinical studies with the vaccine, most side effects were mild to moderate in nature,” said the MHRA.

Most side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine “resolved within a few days, with some still present a week after vaccination”.

The common side effects of this vaccine are:

  • Tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given.

  • Generally feeling unwell

  • Feeling tired (fatigue)

  • Chills or feeling feverish

  • Headache

  • Feeling sick (nausea)

  • Joint pain or muscle ache.

  • Other common side effects – affecting up to one in 10 people – include:

  • A lump at the injection site

  • Fever

  • Being sick (vomiting)

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills.

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    Dr Heinz suggested that people might want to schedule their vaccinations at a time when it’s easier to manage potential side effects such as fatigue or headache.

    “Don’t do it at 9 a.m. on your way to work. Do it at the end of the day, if you work normal daytime hours, or a day when you’re already going to be off — that kind of thing,” he said.

    If you develop pain around the injection site, it may be treated with over-the-counter medication. Such medications may also help relieve fever, headache, muscle pain, or joint pain.”

    There are almost 200 coronavirus vaccine candidates in development, and at least 15 of these are in human trials. 

    The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK on Dec 30 by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The rollout of the mass vaccination programme began on Jan 4.

    The Department of Health spokesman said: “Everyone will still receive their second dose, and this will be within 12 weeks of their first.

    “The second dose completes the course and is important for longer term protection.

    “From today the NHS across the UK will prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups.

    “With two vaccines now approved, we will be able to vaccinate a greater number of people who are at highest risk, protecting them from the disease and reducing mortality and hospitalisation.”

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the main symptoms of coronavirus usually include:

  • A dry cough 

  • A temperature

  • Tiredness/lethargy

  • Shortness of breath (in more severe cases)

  • What are the less common symptoms?

    Other symptoms may include:

  • Aches or muscle pain

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Congestion

  • Diarrhoea

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fatigue 

  • Headache

  • Runny nose

  • Sore throat

  • Confusion or dizziness

  • Skin rashes

  • Chills

  • Conjunctivitis

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