Will the coronavirus vaccine make me feel sick?

Good news! Coronavirus vaccines are on the way. So far, two vaccines have wrapped up clinical trials and are approved for use in the United States. Some people are already being vaccinated.

How many people will have side effects?

Some people have asked if getting vaccinated might make them feel sick. Just like other vaccines, many people might experience symptoms like fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, or headache. Fortunately, these symptoms are usually mild. In fact, lots of people reported them even after getting a placebo injection, suggesting that lots of people just have a headache or feel tired by chance after getting vaccinated. 

What about more bothersome side effects?

Pfizer, in their press release, said that only 3.8% of people experienced severe fatigue, and 2.0% severe headache, after the second vaccine dose. Older people experienced fewer side effects than younger people. For the Moderna vaccine, severe side effects have included: fatigue (9.7%), muscle pain (8.9%),  joint pain (5.2%), and headache (4.5%). 

How long will side effects last? Will they hurt me?

These symptoms might be unpleasant, but they’re temporary, usually lasting a day or two. They don’t mean that you have COVID. (The COVID vaccines don’t actually contain the coronavirus, so they can’t give you COVID). And they won’t hurt you. These symptoms occur because your immune system is being activated by the vaccine. 

So keep yourself and your friends and family safe, and get the vaccine when your turn comes. See you in the line for the vaccine!


Last update: December 15, 2020, 4:49 pm ET

Science review: ERS, AGB