Amarillo doctor talks about side effects that could be seen after taking COVID-19 vaccine


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — On Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, the City of Amarillo moved its COVID-19 vaccine distribution into Phase 1B, allowing for more people to receive the inoculation.

Dr. Rodney Young, regional chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said vaccines are designed to introduce something to our body that it needs to be ready to fight.

“We’re trying to induce an immune response,” said Dr. Young. “When you get sick from an illness, it’s not so much the bug itself that produces symptoms like fever, and cough and shortness of breath, as it is our immune response to it that produces chemicals that create fever and cough and sore muscles and things like that.”

Dr. Young explained that anybody getting a vaccine might experience some degree of an immune response that could make them feel sick for a period of time.

He used the flu shot as an example.

“That’s why a lot of people will say, for example, when they get the flu vaccine, they don’t like to get it because it gives them the flu. And then doctors say, ‘Oh, no, no, it’s impossible. You couldn’t get the flu.’ And they say, ‘Well, whatever,’ you know, ‘I still feel like I get the flu. So right or wrong, I’m not doing it.’ Well, the reality is, what’s happening is they’re not getting flu, they are getting an immune response. And that immune response is for a period of time making them feel unwell,” said Dr. Young.

“With a new vaccine that you’ve never been exposed to before, there’s probably a little higher risk of having some of that [symptoms],” said Dr. Rodney Young, regional chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine can be:

  • On the arm where you got the shot:
    • Pain
    • Swelling
  • Throughout the rest of your body:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Tiredness
    • Headache

“These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days,” read the CDC’s website.

“Some don’t have any symptoms. Others have just a little bit of redness or soreness or maybe a little vessel discomfort, perhaps some low-grade fever, but not enough to bother them very much not even enough to want to take medicine or take time off or anything. And then some people will have the kind of reaction you described with your mom where they get more fever, they feel kind of sore and a little unwell. But it tends to be short-lived usually measures and measured in hours to a day or two, and in most cases managed pretty easily with taking something like Tylenol or ibuprofen if the symptoms are severe enough to warrant that,” said Dr. Young.

Dr. Young said if someone does experience symptoms, most of the time, just if they are not very bad, they can ride it out. He said if the symptoms are bothersome enough, patients can take Tylenol or ibuprofen.

The CDC offered the following tips for patients who do experience symptoms:

  • 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 discomfort from fever:
    • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Dress lightly.

Another tip Dr. Young mentioned is planning your vaccine around other things you need to do.

“You want to be prepared because everybody’s mad when you go and get a vaccine and then you had something critical that you needed to do later that day or the next day and you don’t feel like you can do it,” said Dr. Young. “So if that’s your situation, you might want to get the vaccine a day or two later when you can plan for it better. In all likelihood, that won’t be the case.”

The CDC said in most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal, but to contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours
  • If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days

Dr. Young said they cannot give an insurance policy that no one will have any kind of reaction to an immunization. 

“That’s just not how it works. It’s possible, but it is very, very unlikely, it is not something we’re seeing at all,” said Dr. Young. “Among those that we see them, people just report mostly minor symptoms or something that was worth the benefit of getting a higher level of protection and helping to bring this pandemic to an end.”

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