Expert says COVID-19 vaccine side effects are completely normal, brief

By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As more COVID-19 vaccines are administered, people are comparing their reactions — and discouraging some who haven't gotten the shot to skip it because of the side effects.

Side effects from a vaccine are completely normal, according to Dr. Paul Offit, director of the vaccine education center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"It's just the result of an activated immune system now trying to make antibodies directed against the protein that sits on the surface of the SARS CoV-2 virus. So the immune system is finally getting the recognition it deserves and it's seen as a good thing," he explained.

A sore arm, slight fever, headache and fatigue are all possible side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. However, they only last a day or two.

And as Offit pointed out, the side effects greatly outweigh the possibility of getting COVID-19.

"They always go away and what you have as a result is immunity against a virus which can cause you to suffer or be hospitalized or die, a very small price to pay," he said.

Offit doesn't believe any one of the three vaccines causes more of a reaction than the others, although he admits the Johnson & Johnson shot still needs more studying. He said last week's story about clinics shutting down due to too many adverse reactions to the J&J shots were independent of the actual vaccine.

"I think what happened at those clinics is that people had, basically anxiety and as a consequence they hyperventilate, they got tingly in their hands, they may have felt nauseous or faint, they may have vomited," he speculated.

"I think when you see one person do that when you're already anxious enough as it is, that causes you to be anxious and anxiety is contagious."

On the flipside, Offit said he's been getting many worried calls about people not having side effects.

"People will call me to say they've gotten the vaccine but haven't had any symptoms. They haven't had fatigue or headache or muscle pain or joint pain or fever, and they now wonder whether the vaccine worked," he reported, "because they heard that you do get side effects and they're wondering if there is an association between side effects and having the vaccine actually work. I think it's the first vaccine that people complain they didn’t have side effects."

He said not to worry — side effects or not, the vaccine is working. As for CDC data that shows women reacting to the vaccines more than men, Offit believes it's more of a coincidence than anything else.

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