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COVID-19 vaccine side effects: Here’s what you need to know


LUBBOCK, Texas – Experts say serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines are relatively rare and they still urge people to get the vaccine when they are eligible.

Melissa Lara is a caregiver in Lubbock and got the Moderna vaccine to help keep people she works with protected. She says she had a reaction after getting the shot, which in itself was painless. But as the days progressed, she started to notice a few things.

“The second day, I did get headache,” said Lara. “I didn’t feel good, took some medicine and went to bed.”

By the third day, she said the swelling in her arm had gotten progressively worse.

“I noticed that it was really hot and bigger. When I say hot, I mean hot,” said Lara. “I’m like ‘Oh my God,’ I mean it was like humongous. It had spread all over my arm.”

Lara said after a few days, the swelling went down and she felt normal.

Dr. Sandra Dickerson, a surgeon and the President of the Lubbock County Medical Society, said that in studies for the Moderna and Phizer vaccines, 20 percent of people experienced mild side effects. However, she said those side effects subsided in a couple of days.

“[People can] either get a red spot, [and] sometimes they get fatigue, or headache, or fever or joint pain, or chills,” said Dr. Dickerson.

Dr. Dickerson said anyone who has had an allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate or other vaccines should not take the COVID-19 vaccine. She said self-monitoring is important after getting vaccinated.

“What the manufacturers recommend is if you do have a red spot [at the injection site] that you watch it,” she said. “And if it gets bigger, that you go see your doctor to make sure something else isn’t going on.”

Dickerson said for the most part, however, those reactions will go away after a few days.

Dr. Ron Cook, the Health Authority for the City of Lubbock, said there are certain signs to look out for if someone has experienced severe side effects to the vaccine, such as an allergic reaction.

“The CDC put out a recommendation that if you had a significant reaction that required epinephrine or an Epipen after you received the vaccine, […] it is recommended that you do not get the second [dose],” said Dr. Cook.

The Centers for Disease Control has published a list of common and severe side effects related to the vaccine. Click here to read more.

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