COVID-19 vaccines, like all medicines, can have side effects, but they are generally mild and short-lived. In fact, experiencing some side effects after the vaccine is a good sign that your body’s immune system is learning how to defend itself against the disease. However, not everyone will have side effects, and some may have more or less than others.
The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include:
- Pain, tenderness, and heaviness in the arm where you received the shot.
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Headache, body aches, and chills.
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
- Mild flu-like symptoms.
These side effects typically occur within the first two days after vaccination and go away on their own within a few days. Taking over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can help ease discomfort, but avoid aspirin if you are under 16 years old.
If your side effects worsen or last longer than expected, contact NHS 24 at 111 for advice. Also, if you develop a fever above 37.8°C within 48 hours after the vaccine, it is a common and expected reaction, and you don’t need to worry. However, if the fever appears later or lasts longer, you should seek medical attention as you may have COVID-19 or another infection.
It’s worth noting that different COVID-19 vaccines may have different side effects, and some people may experience more or fewer side effects after each dose. However, regardless of the vaccine you receive, it’s essential to complete the full recommended course for optimal protection against the virus.
After the vaccination, you should rest for five minutes, but if you have a history of allergies, fainting, or adverse reactions to vaccines, you may be advised to stay for 15 minutes. If you experience any allergic symptoms such as a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the tongue or throat, call for help or dial 999 immediately.
One uncommon side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is swollen glands in the armpit or neck, which can last up to 10 days. If you have a breast screening appointment, inform the healthcare staff that you have received the vaccine.
Finally, there have been some rare cases of heart inflammation, called myocarditis or pericarditis, reported after COVID-19 vaccines, mostly in young men. While it’s not yet clear whether the vaccines are causing these cases, seek medical attention urgently if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fast, pounding heart.
Is it possible to contract COVID-19 from the vaccine?
The answer is no. However, it’s important to note that you could contract the virus prior to receiving the vaccine and not realize it until after your scheduled appointment.
It’s recommended that you review the coronavirus vaccine information leaflets, which are available in multiple languages.
One concern that has been raised is whether the vaccine can cause irregular periods or unexpected bleeding. It’s worth noting that menstrual cycle issues are relatively common and can stem from a variety of factors such as stress or other short-term illnesses. While some individuals have reported heavier-than-normal periods following vaccination, there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine is the cause of such changes.
We encourage everyone to stay informed and discuss any concerns or questions with their healthcare provider.
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