Happy Tuesday Friends.
My friend, JdM recently shared this great article from NOVA: ‘I’ve been exposed to COVID-19. When should I get tested?’ It’s a pretty quick read and has lots of great information.
In other news, the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines have been available since mid-December, with current distribution mainly to frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
As of this writing, over 6.6 million people in the US have received the vaccine safely, which is the good news of the day. This works out to about 2 doses per 100 people, so by my super-precise math, this means we’re a long way from the goal of vaccinating 70-100% of people in the country. Worldwide, over 23.7 million people (or 0.3 per 100) have been vaccinated.
However, one question that has been circulating is: What about side effects and allergic reactions? And what’s the difference?
Some people after receiving any vaccine (including the COVID vaccines) do experience side effects. These are not allergic reactions and usually are mild and go away after a day or two. Side effects normally do not prevent people from getting the second dose. Some side effects include:
- Pain and swelling on the arm where you got the vaccine.
- Fever, chills, headache, and a general tired feeling throughout your body.
These side effects are not evidence of an infection, since the COVID vaccines do not contain a live virus and can’t infect you.
Anything else? According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) you should contact your doctor if the redness or swelling and tenderness at the injection site increases after 24 hours, or if your side effects do not seem to be going away after a few days.
Allergic reactions are very difference from side effects. Quite rarely, some people have allergic reactions, where the body’s immune system becomes over engaged and responds to the ingredients in the vaccine.
The CDC has provided this website with information and recommendations on severe and non-severe allergic reactions.
There have been a few reports of non-severe allergic reactions (such as hives, swelling, and wheezing) within 4 hours after getting the vaccine.
And so far a very few people US have experienced severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, which is another type of allergic reaction and can be life-threatening. These reactions must be treated by use of an epinephrine or EpiPen© or the patient must go to the hospital.
As of this writing, 29 people have reported severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine, for example. All have recovered. The majority of these people had a previous history of severe allergic reactions.
Anaphylaxis happens very shortly after the shot and symptoms include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Weak and rapid pulse rate
- Dizziness or fainting
- Flushed and pale skin
- Skin reactions such as itching and hives
If you have had a severe or non-severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, the CDC recommends not getting the second dose.
If you have a history of immediate allergic reactions—even if it was not severe—to a vaccine for another disease, or history of allergic reactions, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.
Verdict: Educate yourself but the vaccine has been safely tolerated by millions of people as of this writing.