Reports have shown that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is not pleasant, but it’s far preferable to catching COVID-19.
“The benefits certainly outweigh that short-term discomfort,” Wisconsin Immunization Program Director Stephanie Schauer said during a press call with reporters last week. “We know that a fair number of folks may experience some fatigue, or headache, or muscle aches, or pain or redness at the site of injection.”
Nausea, chills and dizziness have also been reported, and were more common with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than the vaccine from Moderna.
“These symptoms are an expected part of immunization. It shows that the body is responding,” Schauer said.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Thursday announced the planned staggered launch of the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. According to the state, it "will provide a central place to let people know where and when they can they can get vaccinated, and let them schedule an appointment."
Symptoms tend to be worse after receiving the second dose and for those who have already had COVID-19; health leaders still recommend that those who have had COVID get vaccinated, in part because of the many different strains of the novel coronavirus that have arisen.
New data also shows that the side effects and chance of serious illness after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine indicate that the vaccines are far less dangerous than actually catching COVID-19 and are likely safer than even catching the flu.
Still, deaths have been reported after receiving the vaccine. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 113 people died after receiving the vaccine between Dec. 14 and Jan. 13, with 6,994 “adverse events” in total being reported. Over that monthlong period, 13.7 million doses were administered.
Two-thirds of those 113 deaths occurred in long-term care. There were also 46 cases of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction; concerns about anaphylaxis are why recipients of a vaccine, particularly for people who have pre-existing allergies, are encouraged to remain at vaccination sites for a while after receiving the vaccine to make sure they are OK to go about their day.
If all 113 of those deaths are considered to be linked to COVID-19, then the death rate (dividing 113 by 13.7 million) would be 0.000825%. In comparison, COVID-19’s U.S. death rate is 1.78%, since there have been 494,008 American deaths linked to COVID-19, with 27,811,343 of confirmed cases, according to the CDC’s totals reported Saturday.
Nationwide, the elderly have received the lion’s share of vaccinations so far, unlike COVID-19 diagnoses, which have been more evenly distributed across all ages.
Plenty of concerns remain, although health experts are still recommending that virtually everyone age 16 and older get vaccinated.
A CDC spokesperson told Agence France-Presse Fact Check last week that “to date, no evidence has indicated an increase in miscarriages after Covid-19 vaccines, and no concerning patterns of reporting have been observed.”
The CDC also notes that pregnant women have a higher risk of suffering from many severe illness; that “based on how mRNA vaccines (such as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines) work, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant;” and, according to the Mayo Clinic, miscarriage already occurs in 10% to 20% of pregnancies.
What to do
Here’s what the CDC recommends if you suffer the following symptoms:
To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot
- Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
- Use or exercise your arm
To reduce discomfort from fever
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Dress lightly
When to call the doctor
- If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
- If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
What if I have an allergic reaction?
- If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911