The side effects of pharmaceuticals are never good and often last long enough to fill up most of a commercial, so the vaccine for COVID-19 may prove to be no different.
Trial data shows that recipients of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week may receive mild or moderate side effects, as well as those who may be taking the Moderna vaccine soon. But the trial patients also expressed that it was worth it.
“It’s better having 36 hours of feeling really rough than getting COVID,” Jocelyn Edwards, a 68-year-old retired nurse, told the Wall Street Journal after being a Moderna Phase 3 clinical trial participant.
“I woke up around midnight freezing. For the next 24 hours, I had intense chills, serious neck pain, headache. All my joints were aching.”
Edwards also told the Wall Street Journal that she felt fine the next day, albeit three pounds lighter from the 102-degree fever.
Moderna’s study showed that twice as many trial volunteers between ages 18 and 64 experienced side effects after the second vaccine dose. About 48% experienced chills with about 17% getting a fever. Some mentioned headaches or fatigue.
With Pfizer’s vaccine trial, the 18- to 55-year-old volunteers had similar numbers after the second dose –35% with chills, 16% with a fever, and some with headaches or fatigue. Side effects were less frequent in older volunteers.
“It’s a really good sign that there is a signal from your body that there is something different inside you,” University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research Director Paul Duprex told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s being recognized by your immune system to make all important SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.”
This will only be worth it if Americans are willing to be vaccinated in large numbers. Public health authorities are estimating that 60 to 70% of a population need antibodies to reach herd immunity.
As Pfizer vaccine volunteer Jackie Stone said, “One day of feeling crappy in bed is totally worth getting your life back.”