SAN ANTONIO – “Vaccine arm” or “shot shivers?” Whatever you call your post-vaccine symptoms, doctors say the effects of the COVID-19 shot are entirely custom-made according to your immune system, and there is nothing to be feared.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study showing why people won’t get a vaccination, even though they qualify. Some of the reasons are political, and some groups express mistrust in the medical community, but many people are worried about the side effects.
It’s a big enough group to get the attention of President Joe Biden, who is strongly urging younger people 16 and older to put aside their hesitation and roll up their sleeves.
“Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated. Unlike the target groups, where we made such great progress, a broad swath of American adults remain largely unvaccinated,” Biden said during a speech.
On Wednesday, Biden asked employers to offer paid time off for workers to get the shot.
Doctors admit that the vaccine’s potential side effects are getting a lot of attention, especially due to the questions about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine being put on pause and investigated for a link to blood clotting. But they say, for the most part, the typical side effects are nothing to cause concern. They are short-lived and vary from person to person depending on many factors.
“When (researchers) look at groups of people that are over 55, they tend to have less side effects than people at the 16 to 55-year-old range,” said Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist at University Health.
Bowling says younger people tend to have a more robust immune response than those in middle age.
If you don’t have any vaccine reaction at all, it’s not a sign that the vaccine isn’t working. Some people just don’t have severe side effects, Bowling says.
“Someone that has more severe side effects -- it doesn’t mean that they’re having better protection than someone that may have no side effects. So just to reassure people, if they’re not having much in the way of side effects, it doesn’t mean that your system is sleeping on you,” Bowling said.
Another reason for vaccine side effects could be that you’ve already had COVID-19. Bowling says that means that your immune system is already primed for the virus.
“When they get that first dose of vaccine, they may notice those symptoms that people tend to recognize more with the second dose if they’ve not had the infection,” he said.
If you know you had COVID-19, you likely have protection from getting it again for up to 90 days. But if you want to get vaccinated post-COVID, all doctors ask is that you wait at least 10 days from the time your symptoms began. To read the CDC’s advice on side effects, click here.