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How long do covid-19 vaccine side effects last?

The CDC has issued guidance on potential side effects for the coronavirus shots. The symptoms are fairly rare but you may need to contact a doctor if they persist.

The CDC has issued guidance on potential side effects for the coronavirus shots. The symptoms are fairly rare but you may need to contact a doctor if they persist.
Jon CherryAFP

The national vaccination effort has been one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities since taking office in January. His American Rescue Plan provided hundreds of billions of dollars to aid the vaccine rollout and the shots are now available to all adults.

Biden initially set the target of 100 million shots in his first 100 days, but last weeks it was announced that his administration had reached 200 million within the first 100 days.

The life-saving vaccinations are the best route out of the pandemic, but they do come with some fairly common side effects.

How common are side effects with covid-19 vaccines?

Unfortunately experiencing some form of side effects is a completely normal part of receiving any vaccine, and is actually a sign that your body is responding positively. The vaccine shot essentially introduces a small dose of the coronavirus into your system so your body is better able to fight of a similar infection in future.

Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health in Illinois, spoke to NBC News about the side effects: "It tells us that the vaccine is working. Our body's forming a robust immune response and we feel that that's a positive thing.

"So we tend to see the vaccines that have a higher efficacy rate also have more of the so-called side effects or the symptoms because they work so well."

The likeliness of contracting some of the side effects varies between different types of vaccination with the overall likelihood of feeling any worse actually pretty small. Pfizer report that only about 3.8% of their clinical trial participants experienced fatigue while roughly 2% got a headache. For recipients of the Moderna shot, which is thought to be slightly more effective, around 9.7% felt fatigued and 4.5% got a headache.

How long will side effects from the coronavirus vaccination last?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that the most common side effects are a normal part of the vaccination process and will typically go away after a few days. However they warn that in some cases they may affect your ability to do daily activities.

To combat any issues you may have post-vaccination, the CDC recommend talking to your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain relief medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines. However these should be taken after you get the shot, not before.

In most instances the side effects will subside after a couple of days and you should be back to normal, but some may experience more long-term symptoms. The CDC advise that you should contact either your doctor or healthcare provider if:

- The soreness or tenderness get worse after 24 hours

- Your side effects are particular severe or do not seem to be improving after a few days.

For more information, check out the CDC’s help page on Covid-19 Vaccine Possible Side Effects.


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