Understanding Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccine

Severe Allergic Reactions

The CDC reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions —also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. An allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. These reactions are very rare and as of 1/11/21 only 21 patients out of 1.8 million vaccinated have had an anaphylactic reaction.

Non-severe Allergic Reactions

Non-severe reactions are called local or systemic. Non-severe allergic reactions that occur within 4 hours after getting vaccinated (known as immediate allergic reactions) include hives, swelling, and wheezing (respiratory distress).

Common Side Effects

Common side-effects may affect a patient's ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. These include: pain and swelling on the arm where the patient got the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.

When to Call the Doctor

Patients should contact their healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness where they got the shot increases after 24 hours or if the side effects are worrying them or do not seem to be going away after a few days.