The COVID-19 Vaccine: Questions and Side Effects | Big Horn Basin Media

The COVID-19 Vaccine: Questions and Side Effects

Written by on December 22, 2020

There’s still a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine – here’s everything you’ll want to know.

As the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine becomes more readily available and misinformation abounds across social media, the Wyoming Department of Health wants to ensure that everyone knows the facts by answering a few simple questions.

Will the vaccine cost anything?

No. The doses that will be administered have been purchased by the federal government. No one will be charged for COVID-19 vaccination.

Will I be forced to get vaccinated?

Not by any government mandate. No state or federal laws require citizens to get the vaccine, although private employers may decide to make the vaccine mandatory for their employees. That will be left to the discretion of the private sector.

Is the vaccine safe?

 Absolutely. Several people participated in a vaccine trial program, volunteering to receive the vaccine first to ensure it was safe and monitor any side effects.

The only groups of people being asked to avoid vaccination are those who had COVID-19 in the last 90 days (but they can receive it once that period ends) and those with severe allergies. People with mild or seasonal allergies will be perfectly fine.

When can I get vaccinated?

There’s no timeline yet. Cody Regional Health and healthcare providers across the nation are currently in Phase 1a of the three-phased vaccination plan. Frontline medical staff and high-risk populations, like those at long-term care centers and assisted living facilities, are prioritized.

Local health authorities – like Park County Public Health and the Wyoming Department of Health – will notify the public when they can get vaccinated and where they can go to get it.

But what about the side effects?

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County Public Health Officer, took to Facebook to discuss the latest on the side-effects reported by those who have taken the vaccine. A new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine — Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine – which studied the control group and reported on what they experienced after receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

These were the side-effects reported by the vaccine trial groups:

  • Fatigue was by far the most common systemic side effect, occurring in over 1/2 of vaccine recipients
  • 80% of recipients reported pain at the injection site that disappears after 24 hours. This was a symptom Dr. Billin himself experienced after his vaccination. There’s some evidence that this might be affected by age, but nothing official.
  • Fever was uncommon after the 1st dose, but 16% of younger test subjects and 11% of older subjects reported fever after the 2nd When reported, fever and chills were most predominant 1 to 2 days after vaccination and then tapered off quickly after that. A small portion of test subjects – up to 0.2% – reported a high fever.
  • Muscle pain, chills, joint pain did happen after the 1st shot (around 10%) and doubled in frequency after the 2nd shot.

There were deaths reported in the vaccine testing group, but the deaths cannot be attributed to the vaccine. Two subjects died during the trial period, one from arteriosclerosis and the other from cardiac arrest.

Dr. Billin does not accept these deaths as causes for concern, saying “Keep in mind that people can still die of other things when enrolled in a vaccine trial.”

To bolster that sentiment, he cited that there were four deaths reported amongst the vaccine’s placebo group – a separate trial group that received “sham” treatment with no real effect. In that group, two died from unknown causes, one from hemorrhagic stroke, and one from myocardial infarction

Another interesting discovery from the trial – taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen at the time of vaccination reduces the body’s antibody response. This would indicate that it might lessen any of the vaccine’s side-effects.

Dr. Billin says that none of the side effects reported are serious or dangerous – these are signs that the body’s immune system is responding and doing its job to build resistance to future infection.

The vaccine is safe. It’s here. And it’s making a difference.

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