Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines
The coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) is a disease caused by severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2). Since its earliest known case in Wuhan China, in December 2019, the number of cases has risen to 121 million, globally as of 16th March 2021. The disease has affected more than 210 countries with the United States reporting around a fifth of all cases worldwide. The covid-19 pandemic has been a burden for both developed and developing countries, overwhelming health systems worldwide. However, with the creation of the vaccines, there seems to be a silver lining for this passing dark cloud.
Various vaccines have been developed by various different companies. Companies like; Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have come up with vaccines with different efficacy levels. Governments have made enormous investments into the dispersion of these vaccines in a bid to curb this disease. Around 390 million vaccines, have been administered worldwide and more vaccines are expected to be rolled out and administered eventually.
Although the coronavirus vaccines have brought a ray of hope to everyone worldwide, they have not been devoid of their own shortcomings. There have been reported cases of people experiencing various side effects after getting the vaccine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common side effects include; nausea, fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, and body aches. People might also experience pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. In some cases, though rare, anaphylactic reactions to the some of the vaccines were observed. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been reported to causing blood clots according to The European Emergency Medicines Agency (EMA) and Danish Health Authority. There were 30 reported cases of individuals who had blood clots out of 5 million people who received the vaccine and were monitored. EMA reported that the incidence of blood clots amongst individuals who have received the vaccine is lower than the general population.
According to a recent study done by the CDC in the US during a clinical trial, there are 3 groups of individuals who are more predisposed to having these side effects post vaccination. These are; women, young people and people who have previously suffered from covid-19. According to the CDC report; 79% of reported side effects were experienced mostly by women, although only 60% of people who were vaccinated were women. Dr. Anne Liu, a physician from Sandford Health Care, reported that anaphylactic reactions, although rare, occurred exclusively in women during the clinical trials. A delayed skin reaction was also noted in women. The skin reaction was caused by the Moderna vaccine. The reasons as to why these two reactions occurred has not yet been established. However, there have been speculations that reactions occur more in women than men due to the fact that women mount more aggressive immune response against the virus. The high number of reported numbers in women may be also due to the higher likelihood of women reporting of side effects. These theories are inclusive.
During the clinical trials younger people had more side effects than older people due to their more aggressive immune responses against the infective pathogen. The more aggressive response seems to be beneficial as it means that younger people who might get infected with covid-19 may experience less severe symptoms.
People with previous infections also reported of experiencing the side effects more frequently than people who had no prior infection. This is attributed to the formation of memory cells (T cells) after the first infection, that trigger a faster response to the pathogen introduced to the body.
The benefits of the vaccine do outweigh the risks, as such most medical practitioners are still encouraging people to get vaccinated.