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Doctors urge transparency about COVID-19 vaccine side effects

Physicians say people are ‘probably not going to feel wonderful’ after getting the two-dose vaccine

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Photo (c) Marko Geber - Getty Images
With a successful COVID-19 vaccine on the way, doctors are urging CDC officials to make sure patients are prepared for the possibility of side effects after getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

During a virtual meeting on Monday with CDC advisors, Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association emphasized the need for drugmakers and health officials to be transparent about side effects. 

Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines require two doses in order to be fully effective. Fryhofer expressed concern that patients may decide not to come back for the second dose of the shot due to the side effects they may experience after the first shot. 

“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose.”

Uncomfortable side effects possible 

In clinical trials for both of the vaccines, patients reported experiencing symptoms including high fever, body aches, bad headaches, and daylong exhaustion, CNBC reported. However, most patients said the symptoms subsided after a day. Participants also said short-lived side effects were better than getting COVID-19. 

Pfizer and Moderna have both said their vaccines could cause side effects like muscle pain, chills, and a headache -- symptoms that experts say indicate that the body is starting to develop immunity to the virus.

One participant in the Moderna study said she got a migraine that interfered with her ability to focus. She reported feeling better the following day after taking Excedrin, but she said Moderna should consider advising people to take the day off after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. 

“The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure,” she said. “You will need to take a day off after the second dose.” 

States are gearing up to start distributing a vaccine as early as next month. Vulnerable populations, such as elderly people in nursing homes, are expected to be first in line to be given the option of getting the vaccine. 

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