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What Symptoms Should You Expect After The COVID-19 Vaccine?

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A doctor addresses three big questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including what side effects are normal and which are cause for concern.

Video Transcript

- More than 8.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered statewide. That translates to a little over 27% of the populations that's now fully vaccinated. Given that so many Illinoisans are in the midst of getting shot one or shot two, we thought clearing the air of what you should expect to feel was worth a shot. Chris Tye is live at Northwestern Medical School with what the experts are saying. Chris.

CHRIS TYE: Erica, there are principally three drug makers and millions of drug takers in this country. For most of us, after a shot, we feel fatigued. But doctors are seeing about a dozen or so different kinds of symptoms. Tonight, the key and simple question is which ones are OK, and which ones are cause for concern?

If you've gotten the shot, you've probably gotten the question.

- I have been getting that question asked.

- Following day, a lot of aches in-- just in the right arm.

- I did experience full body chills.

CHRIS TYE: So we asked three big questions to one undisputed expert.

DR MICHELLE PRICKETT: So this has been a question on people's minds ever since we had the vaccine.

CHRIS TYE: Question one, is there such a thing as how we should feel after shot number one or how we should feel after shot number two?

DR MICHELLE PRICKETT: The most common side effect after both shots, really, the first shot is fatigue. People just feel tired. Your immune system is really cranking up. And so most people just want to go and take a nap.

CHRIS TYE: Other than fatigue, others that shouldn't cause alarm, fever, pain and swelling at your injection spot, mild headache, muscle pain, nausea or vomiting. Of concern to her, shortness of breath, blood clots, red bumps on the skin, severe headaches or sustained migraines, a numb arm or leg, slurred speech, tongue or lip swelling, or passing out within 30 minutes of injection. Which takes us to question two.

Can we forecast who is going to feel these things more than others, or is it a complete crapshoot?

DR MICHELLE PRICKETT: The data suggest younger people will have more response and anyone that had a prior infection may have more of a response.

CHRIS TYE: And with J&J sidelined, the third big question is about the two big brand. The concerns of, people feel like Pfizer gives them less side effects than Moderna. Is there any science behind those kind of theories?

DR MICHELLE PRICKETT: So Pfizer and Moderna are almost exactly the same vaccine. There can be small differences. There has been discussion of redness in the site of the injection for Moderna that's been more witnessed than Pfizer.

CHRIS TYE: And she says, yes, it is more common to have a little bit of discomfort after the second shot, Erica, as compared to the first.

- All right. So Chris, that list of symptoms that are of concern, what is the best advice when we experience one of those symptoms?

CHRIS TYE: Yeah, she says if it is something that is very serious, like somebody is passing out or there is an extended period of numbness in a limb, you should maybe head to an ER. But if it's something like discoloration in the skin over a period of time, something a little more mild, she goes, in that kind of situation, you can reach out to your physician.

- Thank you, Chris.