What kind of side effects could you face with the Pfizer vaccine?


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pfizer has maintained that its vaccine is safe, though many are still concerned about the risk of side effects.

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While some would shy away from trying a new vaccine before it is approved, Dr. Kelley Withy signed up as a participant in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial. She said she studied up on the vaccine before she decided to try it. Withy is unsure if she got the placebo or the real vaccine, but she did experience side effects.

“I did have some side effects,” said Withy. “So, where they gave me the shot, it hurt both times for about three to four days. The second shot I had, I was a little tired, I had headaches for about three days. I took some Tylenol, but I worked through it.”

Withy tells KHON she also experienced some leg aches a few days after taking the second dose and nausea, but she felt fine five days after taking the second dose.

“After the second dose, the dose side effects were a little bit more pronounced,” said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, John A. Burns School of Medicine Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “But it’s actually a good thing. It means that your body is really, you know, ramping up its immune system to the vaccine.”

According to Pfizer’s Phase Three trial reports, 3.8 percent of participants felt fatigue and 2 percent of people had a headache after the second dose. Other side effects could include muscle pain, chills and joint pain.

“Everyone’s immune system is going to react a little bit differently,” said Buenconsejo-Lum.

When it comes to the older adults, she said some of those who have taken the trial have also reported experiencing similar side effects. However, Pfizer said those older adults reported fewer and milder side effects.

“There is guidance anticipated to come from the CDC soon, in terms of guidance on managing, you know some of those side effects, especially that we might see in the elderly population,” said Buenconsejo-Lum.

As for people who have certain allergies, Buenconsejo-Lum said more information still needs to be released as to how the vaccine may affect them.

“I think if someone has had a personal history of some type of, you know, very severe reaction, it doesn’t necessarily need to be an allergy per se. Like we have had some people, you know with quite severe reactions to other types of vaccines. Then maybe they can wait, you know, until we have a little bit more information that’s probably wise,” said Buenconsejo-Lum.

As for Withy, she will be continuing with the vaccine trial, which she says will last about two years, as Pfizer is still studying how long the vaccine will hold up against COVID-19.

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