San Francisco, CA

Bay Area health departments advise of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Ed Walsh

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San Francisco's vaccination site at the Moscone Center. Photo by Ed Walsh

The San Francisco Bay Area counties are weighing in on the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. Right now three vaccines are approved for use in the United States: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. The Johnson and Johnson had been paused but federal authorities gave it the green light on Friiday.

Accordiing to the San Mateo County Health Department, you can expect the following side effects from all three vaccines: "The side effects for most people are mild: fatigue, muscle aches, and fever. The side effects should go away in 1-2 days. The side effects may be your immune system responding to the vaccine."

Vaccine recipients report that side effects are much more common after the second shot than the first shot. Pfizer and Moderna require two shots. Johnson and Johnson just requires one shot.

The Alameda County Health Department is advising the folloiwng in regards to side effects:

"Some people have experienced side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, like temporary pain or swelling on the arm where they got the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and/or headache. These side effects are normal for any vaccine and should be expected as the body builds cells to defend against COVID-19.

"Effective April 13, 2021, use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine has been paused nationwide while the CDC and the FDA review data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot that developed in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"While adverse effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appear to be extremely rare, people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should monitor themselves for severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination. If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your health care provider immediately. For more information, please see the Alameda County Will Pause Administration of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine press release."

Marin County Health Department advises that "vaccines resulted in side effects that were generally mild to moderate and lasted no more than a couple of days. Symptoms included irritation at the injection point of the arm, chills, fatigue, muscle soreness and fever. Less than 0.5% of trial participants experienced severe symptoms as an allergic reaction to the vaccines. Remember, these symptoms are normal for any vaccine and are a sign that the body is building immunity."

The San Francisco Health Department has the following advice on COVID-19 side effects: "The vaccines may cause side effects in some people. For most people, these side effects will last no longer than a day or two. Possible side effects include: On the arm where you got the shot: • Pain, redness, and swelling Throughout the rest of your body: • Fever • Chills • Headache • Tiredness • Joint and body aches To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot: • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area • Use or exercise your arm To reduce other symptoms, talk to your doctor about taking an over-thecounter medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed. They do NOT mean you have COVID-19. You can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine. If you have questions about your health after your shot, call your doctor, nurse, health or clinic."

Experts say any side effects you may experiience are far outweighed by the benefit of the vaccine.

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