Doctor Explains Possible, Temporary Side Effects to COVID-19 Vaccine

The side effects are more prevalent among younger adults

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More than 200,000 Texans have received a COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Nationally, there are only a handful of severe allergic reactions to the first dose.

A young North Texas health care worker said doctors are correct.

There could be some minor side effects everyone needs to be aware of.

“I felt like as a health care worker, it was kind of my responsibility to protect myself and protect others,” Brooke Ferguson said.

With no previous severe allergic reaction to vaccines, Ferguson lined up for a COVID-19 vaccine at work on Wednesday night.

She received the first of two Moderna vaccines.

The process went smoothly and without any immediate effects, until bedtime when she began to feel intense pain in her injection arm.

“Painful to where it wasn’t comfortable to sleep on it,” she said. “I woke up the next day, probably around 6, 6:30, and I just kind of started getting chills… It was just a lot of exhaustion and you just, I felt achy. My joints started hurting, me knees specifically, and right around my wrist and elbows.”

She said it was a restless night.

North Dallas cardiologist Dr. Hafiza Khan said these flu-like symptoms are ‘expected reactions’ as ones’ immune system reacts to the vaccine.

“Those are expected reactions as our immune system churns up and in fact, they may be a little more in younger people,” Khan said. “What that young woman is experiencing is expected reactogenicity. Reactogenicity meaning our immune system is churning. It’s producing antibodies so that’s a good thing.”

Khan said she received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine but only experienced pain at the injection site.

Symptoms appear to affect younger adults, she said.

Ferguson is 25-years-old and said she has only experienced mild side effects, like a headache, after receiving the flu vaccine.

Dr. Khan said her 24-year-old son who is a scribe in the emergency room at Methodist Dallas received the Pfizer vaccine before Christmas and experienced flu-like symptoms.

“He actually got a headache, myalgia, flu-like symptoms,” said Khan.

What is extremely rare, she said, are severe reactions that can occur within 30 minutes of receiving any COVID-19 vaccine.

“Of the two million people who’ve been vaccinated, six have had a true allergic anaphylactoid reaction, such that they need an EpiPen,” she said.

By today, Ferguson said she has fully recovered from her symptoms.

She said the vaccine is a personal decision for everyone, one that she researched well and one that she would get all over again.

Ferguson said she planned to receive her second dose of the Moderna vaccine in about a month.

“I felt comfortable getting it,” Ferguson said. “It was a scary moment, but it was a really good way to end 2020.”

Khan said those with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines should be monitored for 30 minutes after the injection and ensure medical personnel have appropriate equipment on hand in case of an allergic reaction.

It is also recommended anyone getting the vaccine abstains from drinking alcohol the night before or the day of.

It’s a good idea to also keep your schedule light, in case you experience any side effects, Khan said.

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