What are the side effects of the COVID booster? Here’s what to know before getting vaccinated

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An updated version of the COVID-19 booster shot is here, as a highly contagious omicron subvariant continues to spread.

EG.5, also referred to as “Eris,” is the newest omicron subvariant rapidly spreading nationwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Health officials said the new booster will target the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant. Experts say the shots will be effective against the EG.5 variant since the two are closely related. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older.

Symptoms of EG.5 are similar to those caused by previous variants and include fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, fever, muscle aches, and loss of taste and smell, the WHO said.

Though hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are trending down in Mecklenburg County, according to the CDC, health officials are still urging the public to get vaccinated as the first line of defense against the virus.

Before you schedule an appointment for the new booster, here’s what to know about its side effects.

What are the side effects of the COVID booster?

The side effects of the new booster will be the same as previous vaccines, Dr. Kirsten Hokeness, immunologist and professor of biomedical sciences at Bryant University, said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those side effects include:

  • Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site

  • Tiredness

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Chills

  • Nausea

  • Fever

How to manage COVID vaccine effects

If you have pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given, the CDC recommends applying a clean, cool washcloth over the area.

The CDC also advises drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin, to relieve symptoms.

How to protect against COVID infection

Although the COVID international public health emergency was declared on May 5 to be over, the “WHO continues to urge Member States to maintain, not dismantle, their established COVID-19 infrastructure. It is crucial to sustain surveillance and reporting, variant tracking, and early clinical care provision,” the agency stated.

Mecklenburg County encourages the public to wear a mask, particularly a KN95 or N95 version, when close to others and frequently wash their hands with soap and water. If you feel sick, stay away from others, take an at-home test, and get treatment.

Health officials also recommend testing at home for those feeling sick, washing hands with more soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and cleaning surfaces often.