The first coronavirus vaccine authorized in the United States may cause more side effects than the flu vaccine, but the most common reactions — soreness at the injection site, fatigue and headache — are mild or moderate in most people and fade after a few days, according to analyses of clinical trial data.
Infectious disease experts say most people can safely get the vaccine, but they should be prepared for some of these potential side effects.
“Any robust vaccine may generate some discomfort but it is worth the mild side effects — these side effects are not extraordinary — to be immune against this circulating new pandemic,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at UCSF.
The FDA granted emergency use authorization late Friday to the first vaccine in the U.S., developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech, which has been shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 illness.
Health care workers and residents of long-term care centers will be first in line to receive the vaccine in California, followed by essential workers. Mass vaccinations of the general public are expected in spring or summer 2021.
The Pfizer vaccine’s most common side effects were fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills, according to an FDA analysis of Pfizer’s clinical trial data. Less common were joint pain, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. The vast majority of those symptoms were mild or moderate.