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by Sanjeev Jandu, BHWC Clinical Pharmacist

Although the vaccines have been developed, tested and approved quickly, there has been no compromise on their safety or efficacy. Clinical trials for the both Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines authorised in UK have found that in general most people do not have any serious side effects after being vaccinated.

However, humans have been known to respond differently to medication, and vaccinations are no different. Variation is attributed to a multitude of factors including genetics, age, sex and co-morbidities alongside others.

Both vaccines consist of genetic code directing production of the coronavirus’ spike protein that is delivered in a tiny fat bubble called a lipid nanoparticle. Two doses of vaccine are required which are separated by several weeks. Reactogenicity – which refers to a subset of reactions that occur soon after a vaccination, is typically higher after a second dose.

It is key to remember you CANNOT get COVID disease from the vaccine. Vaccines activate a natural response to build immunity and equip your body to fight off and infection from COVID-19.

Side effects after receiving vaccines are common. They can vary from individual to individual and are normally nothing to worry about.

For example: After the initial vaccination, an inflammatory response is triggered that spreads through the blood stream. Mediators and products of inflammation, such as cytokines from the body can spread through the blood stream and affect the body systems. Cytokines are a group of proteins that are produced in some immune cells which are implicated in causing headaches – a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine!

Common, but temporary side effects reported are:

  • Pain / soreness at the injection site
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Slight fever
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle ache
  • Bone ache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sore throat

The length of time that you may experience any side effect varies from person to person. If you do however experience any other symptoms that may not be listed in the patient information leaflet of the vaccine or are concerned about the length of time you are suffering from these symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact your GP practice.

The aforementioned transient reactions should not dissuade people from getting vaccinated. Having the vaccine means protecting yourself, your families, your colleagues and preventing our NHS from being overwhelmed. It is one of the first and probably the most crucial step in getting back to a life without lockdowns.