FAQ: What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

Experts have reiterated that side effects are common after taking any vaccine, and are not exclusive for COVID-19 vaccines.
Representational image of health workers drawing the vaccine from a vial
Representational image of health workers drawing the vaccine from a vial
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Though a shortage of vaccines is being reported across India, with the Union government opening up the vaccination drive for those between 18-44 years, more people are being inoculated against the coronavirus. Many who received the first dose of the vaccine also experienced side effects, like fever, body ache and pain in the spot where the needle went in. However, while this may seem alarming, experts have pointed out that side effects are seen with all vaccines, and they are signs that your body is building an immune response to the virus. The effects disappear one or two days after receiving the vaccine.

In February 2021, the WHO had said that some blanket side effects after being vaccinated include fever, fatigue, chills and diarrhoea. These are common irrespective of which brand of vaccine you have taken. In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare displays the side effects commonly seen in the two major vaccines that are distributed here -- Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharath Biotech’s Covaxin. For both the vaccines, the symptoms include fever, muscle ache, nausea, and chills. Those who have taken Covaxin also may also experience giddiness or dizziness and body tremors.

Are young people more susceptible to side effects?

In February, a survey conducted by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) revealed that side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are more prevalent in younger people than the older population in India. The survey was conducted on 5,936 people, and it was found that those in the age group of 20-29 reported a symptom frequency of 81%. This number was 7% for those between the ages of 80-90 years. It also says that women are more likely to experience the symptoms than men, with 74.7% of women reporting symptoms compared to 58.6% of men.

The survey found that the onset of the symptoms typically takes 11 hours, and they last up to 48 hours.

Post-vaccination care

In case of fever, chills and body aches, doctors say that the symptoms can be treated with paracetamol. However, in case of any allergic reaction or if the symptoms persist for more than two days, a physician must be consulted. It is also important to note that, while the vaccine helps reduce the effects of COVID-19, it is not a cure. All measures like wearing masks, regularly washing hands and keeping physical distance must be followed even after you have been vaccinated.

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