Side effects of COVID vaccines: EXPLAINED

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You would have probably heard this from people around you “Oh if you’re sick after the vaccine, that just means that you are healthy because your immune system is really working hard“. This myth has resulted in a barrage of misinformation and caused some concerns amongst those not experiencing any noticeable side effects.

Before we go any further, let us first explain how our bodies react to the vaccines.

According to research, two separate systems within our immune system respond to the foreign molecules of vaccines. The first response is the innate immune response which lasts from hours to days. It is activated as soon as our cells notice exposure to foreign introduced material, be it a splinter or a virus with the sole goal of eliminating the invader by sending white blood cells to destroy it.

The second response and also the second line of defense can take days to weeks before activation. This is the long-lasting adaptive immune response that relies on T and B cells within our immune system that learns, remembers, and recognizes various types of invaders and in this case, protein from the coronavirus. Should the body encounter such invaders once again, these antibodies will react immediately from memory.

Side effects vary from person to person and in the case of COVID-19 vaccines. According to the CDC, over 90% of people developed adaptive immune responses while fewer than 50% developed any side effects at all.

Is getting sick after vaccination an indicator of a strong immune system?

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Some commonly reported side effects experienced after receiving vaccination shots are fever, muscle pain and soreness, discomfort and swelling at the injection site, or occasionally, hives like rashes that typically go away within a week. Listed in a non-exhaustive list below:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • diarrhoea
  • pain or swelling at the injection site
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness or discomfort
  • allergic reactions such as rash and swelling of eyelids, face and lips

Rare side effects of vaccination

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On July 3 earlier this year, a 16-year-old teenager collapsed in his home after returning from a strenuous weightlifting session. He had taken his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine six days prior on June 27.

In an official statement on July 5, the Ministry of Health said that the teenager was in critical condition and has since been placed in the intensive care unit at the National University Hospital (NUH). He was previously assessed by trained healthcare personnel to be suitable for vaccination at the time, said a ministry spokesman.

As of June 30, the committee noted that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) had received 12 other reports of myocarditis and pericarditis which is the inflammation of the surrounding heart tissue after receiving their vaccinations with mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. Five of the cases occurred in adults aged 30 years old and above while seven of the cases involved males below the age of 30.

In a more recent update, there were a total of 9,403 reports of suspected adverse effects associated with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines as of end-July, account for 0.12% of the 7.5million administered doses between Dec 30 last year and Jul 31 this year said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Monday (Aug 16) in a safety update.

In conclusion, Scientists to date, have yet to identify any concrete proof that a person experiencing stronger side effects from the vaccine is better protected than one who has faced none. With that being said, there is little to worry about as serious reactions to Covid-19 vaccinations are extremely rare, affecting just four in a hundred thousand in Singapore.

Financial aid for patients with serious side effects

Financial aid will be provided should you experience serious side effects from vaccinations. The quantum of the one-time goodwill pay-out under the VIFAP is based on the severity of the serious side effects attributed to the COVID-19 vaccines. Persons may qualify for one of the following tiers of pay-out:

i)  One-time pay-out of $2,000 for individuals who required inpatient hospitalization and medical intervention, and subsequently recovers;
ii)  One-time pay-out of $10,000 for individuals who required admission to High Dependency or Intensive Care, and subsequently recovers; and
iii)  One-time pay-out of $225,000 for individuals who die or suffer permanent severe disability as a result of COVID-19 vaccination.

Should problems persist, visit your nearest GP for doctor consultations.

To learn more, visit:—singapore-s-covid-19-vaccination-programme

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