Great Britain

Does the Covid-19 vaccine have side effects?

THE FIRST Covid vaccine, developed by Pfizer, has been deemed "safe and effective", by UK regulators.

Tests on the jab, carried out in more than 30,000 people, found it was 95 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19, and scientists found no serious side effects.

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The jab has been authorised for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the UK is set to receive 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by next week.

In the past seven days searches for "Pfizer side effects" shot up by over 500 per cent in the UK - a clear sign that many people are concerned as to how they will react to the jab.

Millions of Brits take jabs every year - whether it's to go on holiday or to stay safe during the winter months with the flu jab.

Experts and developers alike have said side effects are "mild" and "rare" - so what can you expect?

MINIMAL SIDE EFFECTS

The developers behind the jab have said the vaccine is "generally well tolerated in all age groups".

Side effects can be mild and independent data monitoring reported that there were no safety concerns.

Speaking to The Sun, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patientaccess.com said that side effects from the vaccine have been "mild".

She said that all vaccines cause side effects in some people - but that this is largely because they are designed to boost your immune system.

Dr Sarah said: "When your immune system is learning to fight off an invader, lots of white blood cells rush to where they’re needed and produce natural chemicals.

"That means most vaccines, including the annual flu vaccine, can lead to mild redness, tenderness of swelling around the area you had the injection.

"In the Covid-19 vaccine trials, all the side effects seen so far have been mild and very similar to those seen with other vaccines like the yearly flu vaccine."

COMMON REACTIONS

The vaccine is administered to a patient in two doses and reports from Pfizer state that the worst side effects were fatigue and headaches - but only after the second dose.

Just four per cent of people reported fatigue and two per cent reported a headache.

Similar to jabs such as the flu, some people reported pain in the site the injection was administered.

Dr Sarah added that if you do get these symptoms then they will "settle down within a few days".

Chief medical officer at BioNTech, Özlem Türeci said that these are "common reactions you would have with any vaccination".

While there were few side effects in those who trialled the jab, there were fewer and milder side effects in older adults.

Who is top of the list to get a coronavirus vaccine?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.

Its interim guidance says the order of priority should be:

  1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers
  2. All those who are 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
  3. All those who are 75 years of age and over
  4. All those who are 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age
  5. All those who are 65 years of age and over
  6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group
  7. All those aged 60 and over
  8. All those aged 55 and over
  9. All those aged 50 and over

DOES IT PROTECT EVERYONE?

Experts have warned that the vaccine won't be the only way to end the pandemic and have said that government health messages such as "hands, face and space" will remain for some time to come.

In the Pfizer trials around 20,000 people were given the vaccine.

Just eight caught the coronavirus - and one became seriously ill.

This is in contrast to 164 people who fell ill when taking the placebo drug - with nine becoming severely ill.

It's not known why some people didn't respond positively to the vaccine - but a success rate of 95 per cent is similar to other vaccines.

WILL IT STOP ME CATCHING COVID?

The trial tests carried out by Pfizer were designed for symptomatic Covid-19 and confirmed infections.

It's hard for experts to know whether or not the vaccine prevents transmission - one person passing the virus to another.

Pfizer states that it still carrying out studies on this and it will release information as soon as it becomes available.

Some vaccines can make disease worse through a process called antibody-enhanced disease.

This hasn't been seen in the Pfizer vaccine or other vaccine offerings such as the Moderna or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and it hasn't occurred natually - which sometimes happens with other viruses.

Prof Jonathan Van Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said scientists had been able to develop the jab at speed due to how many people in the country had contracted the virus - in other words - coronavirus is not a rare condition.

He said: "For something like meningitis, which is a very rare disease, waiting to get the numbers of cases required to get proof the vaccine works can take several years because there isn’t meningitis around every corner.

“In coronavirus territory, the vaccine manufacturers have done their best to place trials where disease activity is very high – that way you get the counts of people in the dummy arm with coronavirus to prove the vaccine works and you get it quickly.”

Prof Vam Tam also said that side effects would be rare "if they occur at all".

Hospitals are now preparing their staff to start receiving the vaccine from Monday.

It has to be stored at -70C and can only be thawed in batches of 1,000 before immunisation.

Health bosses are gambling the Oxford-developed AstraZeneca jab, which can be kept in a normal fridge, will be approved soon.

Doses of the jab arrived in the UK yesterday and experts have warned Brits to be cautious and not read too much into myths surrounding the jab.

For months theories have circulated questioning how scientists could produce a vaccine in such a short period of time, with some accusing experts of "cutting corners".

One expert has blasted these dangerous myths, which include sceptics claiming that the jab is the "next Thalidomide".

The editor of independent fact-checking charity Full Fact, Tom Phillips said the authorities and vaccine makers need to garner the trust of the public.

Tom said it is important to look for the source before sharing on any claim about the vaccine, and added: "Ask to see the evidence.

"It's always worth spending a little bit of time before you share it on to check if it is true", he added.

Jonathan Van-Tam warns people will still have to follow social distancing after having vaccine

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