Under-30s in the UK are going to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab, as concerns around the risk of blood clots are raised in Europe.
While many have pointed out that the chances of extreme side effects are very low, it’s expected that the NHS will now administer more doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
To date, 31 million people have received their first vaccine dose in the UK. The vast majority of these have experienced no side effects at all, with some have reported flu-like symptoms afterwards.
As the benefits of being vaccinated – for both personal and community health – outweigh the tiny risk, many are now preparing for their second dose.
So, are there any side effects after the second dose of the vaccine, and what can people do if they are nervous about getting it?
Second Covid vaccine and possible side effects – all we know
Around one in 10 people will encounter side effects after the second dose of the vaccine, but, in most cases, it’s not something to be worried about.
The government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has released data on the likelihood of side effects after both doses of the vaccine.
Trials have shown that younger people are more likely to have side effects than older people, although it’s not unusual at any age.
Experiencing mild side effects after both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines is normal. These may include the below:
- Injection-site tenderness
- Injection-site pain
- Muscle pain
While these can occur after receiving either dose (or both), some experts – and CDC guidance – have said the second jab can cause more intense side effects. Large-scale data on this is not yet available, however.
Dr Sreedhar Krishna says the more intense side effects are due to the body being primed for the proteins within the jab.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, he says that ‘by the time of the second vaccine, the body has produced special memory cells which are on the lookout for proteins it has already encountered in previous battles.’
‘Since these memory cells are already lying in wait, it can rapidly generate an inflammatory response to the protein – much more quickly than the first time your body encounters the vaccine.’
‘An analogy might be Lewis Hamilton driving in Formula 1. For the first vaccine, he is at the start line with his engine switched off.
‘Once you’ve had your first vaccine, your immune response is already grumbling on at 10mph – it’s much quicker to accelerate if you’re already moving, rather than starting from a still position.’
What to do if you’re nervous about getting the Covid vaccine
Dr Olivia Szepietowski told Metro.co.uk there are multiple ways to prepare for the jab.
While you’re not alone in feeling nervous, it’s important to remember the effects of getting vaccinated – in most cases -are fleeting, and massively outweigh the risk of not having one for yourself and others.
‘If it’s side effects you’re concerned about, I recommend reading some reliable sources about the rarity of side effects,’ Dr Szepietowski says.
‘For those concerned about the vaccination itself, it can be helpful to talk to people who have already had it.’
Familiarising yourself with the process by watching videos on YouTube can also demonstrate how simply and quick the process is, as it’ll be over in a matter of seconds.
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Author: Sophie Dickinson