COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects 2022
More than 603 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through July 27, 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Researchers carefully track the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. Side effect considerations were an important part of clinical trials before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccines and will remain in consideration as more people get the vaccine.
Here’s what you should know about COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
As with all vaccines, side effects may occur after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. These include:
- muscle pain
- pain at the injection site
- redness at the injection site
- swelling at the injection site
According to the
What are the chances of getting serious side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?
Serious COVID-19 vaccine side effects are very rare. However, if a person were to experience serious side effects, they are most likely to occur in the first
According to the
- Anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life threatening allergic reaction that can cause breathing problems, hives, and low blood pressure. Less than
0.3 percentof people receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for the first time experienced this side effect.
- Myocarditis and pericarditis. Myocarditis is a rare COVID-19 vaccine side effect. It occurs when the heart muscle becomes inflamed. Pericarditis is when the tissue surrounding the heart swells and becomes inflamed. According to
2021 research, doctors most often associate these side effects with mRNA vaccines, such as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). TTS is a rare side effect that can cause blood clots or increased blood clotting, which can potentially be life threatening. Doctors associate this side effect most commonly with
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Cause Paralysis?There are several potential causes of paralysis following a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, before we get started, it’s important to reiterate that experiencing paralysis after a COVID-19 vaccine is rare. Of the millions of doses administered globally, only a tiny percentage of people reported paralysis.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) happens when your immune system attacks parts of your peripheral nervous system, which are the nerves located outside of your brain and spinal cord. This can lead to weakness and paralysis.
What exactly causes GBS is unknown. However, many times, it starts following a viral infection. In very rare situations, GBS has also been documented following vaccination.
In the United States, GBS has mainly been associated with the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is different from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines in that it uses an adenovirus vector.
GBS can affect anyone at any age. However, the
The elevated risk of GBS is one of the reasons why the
Bell’s palsy is a type of temporary facial paralysis that typically affects one side of the face. The exact cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but inflammation or swelling affecting the facial nerve plays a role.
Bell’s palsy has most often been reported after the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. These are the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both large-scale clinical trials for these vaccines reported rare occurrences of Bell’s palsy:
- In the Pfizer-BioNTech trials, out of 43,252 participants,
four peoplein the vaccine group had Bell’s palsy, compared to no individuals in the control group.
- In the Moderna trials, out of 30,350 trial participants,
three peoplein the vaccine group had Bell’s palsy as well as one individual in the control group.
Transverse myelitis happens when the spinal cord becomes inflamed. The condition causes symptoms that affect the body in a band-like pattern and can include weakness, pain, and sensory changes.
Transverse myelitis happens due to damage to nerve fibers in the spinal cord. While the cause of some cases can remain unknown, a variety of factors may cause transverse myelitis to develop, including:
- autoimmune activity, which can include:
- certain autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis
- autoimmune responses after an infection or vaccination
- autoimmune activity due to a cancer
- inflammatory conditions that affect the spinal cord
There have been case reports of transverse myelitis occurring after COVID-19 vaccination.
Transverse myelitis has also been
As we mentioned, documented occurrences of transverse myelitis after COVID-19 vaccination have largely been limited to case reports and series. Compared to the number of vaccine doses administered globally, this effect is very rare.
In fact, a 2021 case report noted that, as of April 21, 2021, only 45 reports of transverse myelitis after COVID-19 vaccination had been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
Neuralgic amyotrophy is a rare condition that involves pain and progressive weakness in the shoulder and arm. It’s also called Parsonage-Turner syndrome.
Neuralgic amyotrophy is believed to be caused by an abnormal inflammatory response of the immune system. Some factors that have been linked to the condition include:
- infections, particularly viral infections
- recent vaccination
- injury or trauma
- existing autoimmune conditions
Similar to transverse myelitis, reports of neuralgic amyotrophy after the COVID-19 vaccine are limited to several case studies. It’s been reported after all three of the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved or authorized in the United States.
COVID-19 vaccines are now FDA approved for those ages 5 and up. Here are some of the side effects reported by age.
FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 happened in October 2021. Because of this, there’s less data on vaccine side effects in children. However, clinical trials where researchers tested the vaccines in children revealed no serious side effects, according to 2021 research.
The most common side effects from the study were similar to those of adults. These included pain at the injection site, fatigue, chills, and headache. The most common symptom in children was mild to moderate fever.
Older adults are less likely to have vaccine side effects than younger adults, according to the earlier study by
U.S. adults have received more than
There’s still a lot of research to be done comparing the effects of each vaccine. The
However, the fact that far fewer people have received the non-mRNA vaccine could explain the difference in reported outcomes.
If you have a severe allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the
For example, if you have an allergic reaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, avoid the Moderna vaccine (and vice versa) since they work in the same way.
If you experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, here are some measures that may help:
- Apply cold compresses to the injection site.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Perform light stretches to relax your arm muscles.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin (but only for those older than age 18).
- Rest and give your body time to recover.
If you experience a significant side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine, report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. This resource can also be used to report any new side effects you haven’t heard mentioned before.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) treatment
Several treatments can be used for GBS, including:
- plasma exchange or immunoglobulin therapy
- physical therapy
- supportive care, if necessary, such as heart monitoring and respiratory support
Bell’s palsy treatment
The outlook for Bell’s palsy is typically quite good. The condition is temporary and most people recover the function of their facial muscles
Transverse myelitis treatment
While many people do recover from transverse myelitis, it can sometimes take months to years. Treatment is similar to that of GBS, often involving plasma exchange or immunoglobulin therapy, steroids, and physical therapy.
Neuralgic amyotrophy treatment
The treatment of neuralgic amyotrophy can involve pain management, steroids, and physical therapy.
While it can resolve on its own, its outlook varies greatly between individuals. About 10 to 20 percent of people may experience lingering pain or difficulty exercising the affected arm.Related: Post-Vaccine Syndrome Treatment Protocol (FLCCC's I-RECOVER)
While creating a vaccine without side effects would be revolutionary, all vaccines have the potential for side effects. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, very few adverse events have been reported, and many worldwide health groups are monitoring side effects closely.
If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccine side effects, talk with a healthcare professional. They can help you evaluate the risks and benefits so you can make the most informed choice.If you do begin to experience symptoms after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, contact your doctor right away. Prompt treatment can help to improve the chances of having a full recovery.
Sources and References:
- Beatty AL, et al. (2021). Analysis of COVID-19 vaccine type and adverse effects following vaccination.
- Bozkurt B, et al. (2021). Myocarditis with COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: FDA limits use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals. (2022).
- Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. (2022).
- Lin D-Y, et al. (2022). Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines over a 9-month period in North Carolina.
- Oliver S. (2021). Updates to the benefit/risk assessment for Janssen COVID-19 vaccines: Applying the evidence to recommendation framework.
- Possible side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. (2022).
- Rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths by vaccination status. (2022).
- Safety of COVID-19 vaccines. (2022).
- Walter EB, et al. (2022). Evaluation of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age.