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Mythbusters: COVID-19 Vaccine Addition. By Our Student Pharmacist, Adam Storc.

As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine ramps up to include more and more people, there have been a number of people concerned about receiving the vaccine due to potential side effects or allergic reactions. In the post below, I will explain the side effects that you can expect from the vaccine and demystify the possible severe side effect of anaphylaxis.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick or give me COVID?

  • All of the currently approved COVID 19 vaccines being given do not contain any live virus and, as a result, cannot infect you with the COVID-19 virus. The approved vaccines are mRNA vaccines which introduce an inactive piece of the virus to your immune system so that your body learns to recognize it and can fight off the real virus in the future. You may develop flu-like symptoms after receiving the vaccine, such as soreness or headaches, but this is due to your immune system building antibodies to fight the vaccine (not because you are sick) and should pass after a few days at most.

After you receive your vaccines, you will not test positive for current infection if you get a COVID-19 test, but you may test positive for the COVID antibodies due your body having built up defenses against future exposure to the virus. This controlled introduction of the inactive virus piece into your system allows you to build up the resistance to COVID-19 without requiring you to get infected in the first place. As a bonus, if the vaccine prevents you from contracting COVID-19, then you cannot spread the virus to other people since it isn’t present in your system (though it is essential that you get both doses of the vaccine for maximum efficacy).

I heard that you could have an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine and can even die from it. Is it worth the risk?

Yes. The vaccine does have the possibility to cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to ingredients contained in the vaccine or who have had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past. HOWEVER, this is also the case for any other vaccine you may receive such as the flu vaccine or the shingles vaccine. To prepare for this, the medical provider giving you the vaccine will ask you many questions about your potential for a reaction and, if they think you may be at risk, will watch you closely after the injection and get you to the hospital if necessary.

How common are anaphylactic (severe allergic reactions) with the COVID vaccines? Below is a picture of the current number of anaphylactic reactions for the state of Ohio for a few different vaccines from the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System. These numbers are for every 50 vaccines given, so 2/50 COVID vaccines have had reported anaphylactic reactions whereas the pneumonia vaccine has the same 2/50 ratio and certain flu vaccines have had as many as 14/50 anaphylactic reactions. All in all, your risk of an anaphylactic reaction is very low and medical personal will be on-site in case of an emergency.

COVID reaction numbers




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