Although the initial two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have helped weaken the hold of the virus, the recent threat of dwindling immunity has called for a new set of measures to rev up immune systems. The opportunity for a third dose in the UK has been widely welcomed, with millions set to be vaccinated in coming weeks. As the booster vaccine begins making its way into arms, one side effect is prevailing over others.
Data collated on Pfizer’s booster vaccine till this point has revealed five side effects can be expected from a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Notably, pain at the injection site has been the most widely reported side effect, according to a clinical trial submitted to the FDA.
Approximately 83 percent of recipients in the Pfizer booster trial reported having injection site pain, 63.7 percent reported fatigue and 48.4 percent had a headache.
Redness and swelling are commonly reported in the arm where the shots were received, but these symptoms are expected to subside within days of receiving the vaccine.
Other side effects recorded during the trial echoed those seen after an initial dose, including muscle and joint pain, chills, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.
Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Workgroup, explained that side effects are not so much a direct result of the vaccine, but rather an “indication of your immune system reacting” to the vaccine.
Swift went on to note that the more robust one’s immune system is, the stronger the side effects will be to the vaccine.
Data from Israel’s booster programme have also revealed side effects have been substantially lower after a third dose of Pfizer’s booster than dose one and two.
Serious side effects with the booster shot vaccine are rare, with no cases of myocarditis reported during Pfizer’s booster shot trial.
Recent studies have shown that although the vaccine elicits a strong immune defence against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19, this may wane faster over time in older people.
Booster vaccines are currently being offered to over-50s and younger adults with an underlying health condition, as well as frontline health and care workers.
People in this group who have had their second vaccine at least six months ago are being invited for a booster shot.
NHS reports last week showed more than 350.000 people have booked this booster shot, with a further 1.5 million invited to book theirs.
In the United States, millions of people are now eligible for the booster vaccine as well.
The government revealed earlier this month that all over-50s will be offered BioNTech or Moderna for the third dose irrespective of their first two shots.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will not be included in the booster programme, following fears of rare blood clotting.
Life-threatening blood clots occurred in about one in 100,000 people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The decision to launch the booster programme was welcomed after figures concluded a third shot would leave adults better protected against the virus in the approaching winter months.
It comes as the first UK person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine received her COVID-19 booster shot last week.
Margaret Keenan, got her third injection at University Hospital in Coventry, last Friday, at the same place she was first vaccinated.