Should I be concerned about long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Like other vaccines, most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines--if they happen at all--will happen right after you get the shot. In the US, the FDA requested that COVID-19 vaccine trials check on patients for at least two months after getting the vaccine. So doctors are confident that the trials have identified possible side effects.

But what about long term side effects?

Doctors don’t think there are going to be long term side effects from the vaccine. But we do know that lots of people have long term side effects from COVID! Some people die, and many experience lung and heart problems even after recovering. One study of patients who were hospitalized with COVID (and survived) found that almost 90% of them had at least one remaining symptom two months later. We know for sure that getting COVID-19 can be dangerous, even for young people.

Why are doctors confident there probably won’t be long term effects from the vaccine?

There are two reasons. One, because there aren’t any biological reasons to think this will happen. Two, because of what we have learned from other vaccines. 

There is really only one example of a vaccine that causes side effects years after the vaccine is given: the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine. This seemed to happen because of the varicella virus strain used to make the vaccine. But none of the COVID-19 vaccines are made from a live virus, so this can’t happen with the COVID vaccines.

Doctors, scientists, and government groups all agree that the recently approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe to use. And all these groups will continue to keep track of how people respond to the vaccines. So keep yourself and your family safe, and get vaccinated when you can!


Last update: December 15, 2020, 3:44 pm ET

Science review: JAB, AGB