More side effects in the second dose of the vaccine? Experts explain

As coronavirus vaccines continue to be distributed across the country, there have been anecdotal reports of people experiencing more side effects after the second dose, but experts say this is a “normal immune response.”

Andrew Heinrich, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, said the reports of more serious side effects so far are “anecdotal,” so there is nothing “statistically valid about that trend.” However, as more people get the vaccine, he said it’s something that people “are aware of and are beginning to ask questions.”

TODAY’s Al Roker even brought up his concerns about dealing with related side effects before receiving his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, noting in early February that he had been hearing stories from friends who had felt more symptoms after receiving the second. injection.

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Kavita Patel told Al that there is no reason to worry: While about a third of people who get the vaccine have symptoms that “look like the flu,” that’s an immune response. expected.

“The second vaccine (dose): think of it as having that hit to your immune system, and your immune system now recognizes the vaccine, so it does its job,” explained Patel, who said she had had a reaction herself. to the vaccine. second dose. “… I felt, for about 36 hours, like I had the flu.”

Dr. Bill Moss, a pediatrician and professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, agreed with Patel’s assessment.

“The second dose is really like a booster dose,” he said. “The immune system is seeing the vaccine for the first time with the first dose and it is reacting to that, and the cells of the immune system are recruited to recognize that spike protein (the part of the coronavirus that affects the vaccine). So when the The body’s immune system sees (the vaccine) a second time, there are more cells and there is a stronger immune response, resulting in those side effects. “

Heinrich called the reaction a “normal immune response.”

What side effects can people expect?

Side effects include localized reactions, such as injection site swelling, rash or pain, which have been reported in about 84% of recipients, according to Patel. About 63% of people have reported feeling some fatigue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that some people may also experience chills, fever, or a headache, and suggest that people who don’t feel better after about 24 hours contact their doctor.

“Just get ready,” said Patel. “If you don’t have a reaction, you don’t have to worry that it didn’t work. Every human being and every body is different.”

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