Covid Jab Side Effects Are 'Normal', Say UK GP... - CLL Support

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Covid Jab Side Effects Are 'Normal', Say UK GPs. But Here's When To Seek Help

Jm954 profile image

It’s “normal” for people to experience mild side effects after having the Covid-19 vaccination, GPs have said.

The most common side effects of the jab, which impact around one in 10 people after being vaccinated, include muscle pain; chills, joint pain, fever, and nausea. Other common side effects you might experience include: a lump where you had the injection, a sore arm, fever, vomiting and flu-like symptoms - like a high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is normal, as with most vaccinations, for some patients to experience mild side effects – such as a sore arm or fatigue – after receiving their jab, which usually last no longer than a few days.”

If you do have mild side effects – like a headache or joint pain, for example – it’s recommended you treat them with painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Uncommon side effects of the vaccine, affecting roughly one in 100 people, include: dizziness, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes, excessive sweating, and itchy skin or a rash.

But when does a mild side effect turn into something you need to seek help for?

Rare side effects, which impact one in 1,000 people, include temporary one-sided facial drooping and in very rare instances, severe allergic reactions.

If symptoms become worse or start to cause concern, patients should seek medical assistance by calling 111 or their GP practice, says Prof Marshall. Or, in an emergency, they should phone 999.

People who experience any side effects, whether mild or more severe, can report these on the Yellow Card website to help inform vaccine safety. coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra...

12 Replies

In the US, please report any & all side effects and adverse reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System:

Hi JackieDo you know if you can swop to another vacinne. Haven't said anything but I would like to have the pfizer for my second one if possible. Have asked the question of my Consultant and support nurse, will next go to GP. Nobody so far seems to know.

I did read that there has been a trial started recently (your post I believe).

Thanks for any help in advance.


Jm954 profile image
Jm954Administrator in reply to wroxham-gb

Hi Sue, from what I've read and heard from medical colleagues then I'm afraid we don't get a choice in this matter.

I think it's unlikely that you will get the Pfizer Vaccine because the current guidance says people should be given a second dose of the same vaccine.

You're right that there is a trial started looking at the mixing of vaccines to see if it gives even better protection but it's in the early stages and there are no results yet.Jackie

wroxham-gb profile image
wroxham-gb in reply to Jm954

Thanks Jackie, Really asking because I had bad Retuxin & Ivig type side effects from vacinne .Don't really want to say much more but thanks for your reply.


SofiaDeo profile image
SofiaDeo in reply to wroxham-gb

If it helps, reactions to those medicines are likely infusion reactions. You don't get infusion reactions with the vaccine, just "stimulated immune system" ones. If you haven't "reacted" strongly to vaccines in the past, you may only see reactions after Dose 2 of the Covid vaccine.

wroxham-gb profile image
wroxham-gb in reply to SofiaDeo

Thank you for your reply. I suffered a really severe reaction to the first Astra Zeneca vacinne six hours from receiving it, so severe paramedics attended and were with me for 4 hours only leaving me when they were sure all was under control. I didn't really want to write this as I didn't want to stop others from having the same vacinne. I was hoping I would be able to swap after advice etc as it was very scary to go through alone. Bit different when you are sat on a ward or in a day care setting and trained professionals are on hand to assist you straight away as used to happen to every Retuxin and Ivig infusion I had which I quoted as being similar.

At the end of the day I will go with the Astra Zenneca if I have too!!

Just appreciate you explaining and trying to help.



Jm954 profile image
Jm954Administrator in reply to wroxham-gb

I'm so sorry to hear about your reaction Sue, you must have been scared and I completely understand your worries about having another dose of AZ.

wroxham-gb profile image
wroxham-gb in reply to Jm954

Thanks Jackie.Sue

SofiaDeo profile image
SofiaDeo in reply to wroxham-gb

I wonder if you can somehow get tested to see if you got immune response. Like not just antibodies, also T-cells, in however many weeks the others in the CLL specific trial are doing. It sounds like you are one of the people who strongly react, so sorry, that must have been awful. If you got a response similar to others, there may be no need to have a second shot. IDK if I would be willing to go through a scary reaction like that without testing to see if a second shot was really necessary.

I think the UK's JCVI proceeds with caution on the question of mixing vaccines. The Com-Cov study is trialling different combinations of vaccine for the first and second shots, to see what works best and potentially to give the vaccination programme more flexibility. I'm afraid they are no longer recruiting, but when results are in who knows, maybe you can get Pfizer for your second shot if that is shown to be at least as efficacious as AZ x 2.

Sir John Bell (head of the Ox-AZ vaccine development team) recently opined that heterogeneous vaccination could well confer deeper and longer lasting immunity.

That you very much for your reply.Appreciated.


AussieNeil profile image

Are Side Effects Why Many Pass on COVID Shots?

— As millions pass up the second mRNA dose, we wonder if side effects are the culprit


"And so clearly the benefits of all of the vaccines far outweigh the risks. When we think about the second doses and the side effects that people may experience from that, for possibly not feeling very well for a day or maybe a day and a half, that pales in comparison to what happens to individuals who were actually infected with COVID who go on to require hospitalization and possibly suffer -- if not death -- suffer from long-term side effects as a result of the infection."

Extracts about why more side effects with the second dose (or the first after a COVID-19 infection), the importance of having that second shot for maximum protection, "the vaccine itself doesn't really stay in your body long" and nearly all side effects occur in the few weeks after vaccination. Since around 1.2 billion vaccinations have been given in the past 5 months, that has to be reassuring news.

Marshall: Let's broaden this conversation even more, Dr. Hewlett. When we look at these vaccines, we know people get mild side effects with the first dose. And then with the second one, it seems to knock you out more. We've heard anecdotal reports that if you've had COVID, your first shot would actually be like other individuals' second shot. So can you explain the science behind what's happening here?

Hewlett: Yes, this is due to what we call a memory response. One of the terms that is used is an anamnestic response. Your body's immune system remembers that you have been exposed to this particular agent or antigen, as we like to call it. In this case, it is a piece of the virus that causes COVID, the spike protein.

So your body recognizes this. So if you're receiving your second dose, your body is actually already poised to react to it. And so it develops a condition that we call reactogenicity, which can be associated with fever and with causing fatigue and other types of things that are associated with an inflammatory response.

And this is actually a good thing because it is actually showing that your body is defending you against this particular antigen. And because you are being exposed to this the second time, your body remembers, and that is why some people have significant symptoms of a short duration, usually. If you have already had COVID, however, when you receive the first dose, your body actually had natural responses to that first encounter with the virus, and so it's almost like you're receiving the second dose of a vaccine, and that is what we call the memory response.

Marshall: That seems a little counterintuitive, though. You would think that when your body first receives that first dose, it would need to build up a more robust response. So that would be the more upsetting shot?

Hewlett: You would think that, but it's actually the opposite. The first time the spike protein is being injected into your body, you are forming antibodies. You are also forming what we call memory cells being stimulated. So, in most cases, people have not been exposed to this particular virus or antigen, as I should say, before. And so that's why the response is really not as robust as the second time.

Marshall: Okay. So now some have reported, though, missing their second shot because they don't want to have those side effects. Even saying, one may be sufficient enough for me.

Hewlett: We are very troubled by that. I think that some of the reports have indicated, and I think there was a report in the New York Times, that indicated that up to 8% of individuals have missed their second dose. So this is troubling ...

Marshall: And that's a pretty high number.

Hewlett: Yes, this is troubling to me as a physician and as a person in public health, because we know that the data on protection and effectiveness, when we talk about the 94% to 95% effectiveness, that that's based on people who have received two doses. And we know that for those who have received only one dose, the level of effectiveness is significantly lower. Possibly only in the less than 80% range or possibly even lower than that.

So it is troubling to us and we hope that individuals will be very vigilant about this and be serious about this and go in to get their second doses because the danger, we think, is that if there is a predominance of variants that are in the environment, it may be that they will be even at a lower rate of being protected against those variants that are out there.

Marshall: So it could actually leave you more susceptible to these new variants that are coming around?

Hewlett: That is correct. Yes.

Marshall: Now, most of those effects, though, are short-term side effects. So when we look at long-term side effects, is that what would actually -- those blood clots from J&J or shingles be classified under, or are those also considered short-term side effects?

Hewlett: These are effects, or adverse events, that occur usually within a few weeks of the vaccine. So we should not mistake these for the long-term side effects that people have described associated with COVID -- the so-called long haulers. That is something that is entirely different. Most of the, I would say, I can't give you an exact percentage, but I would say it's well over 90% of the adverse reactions that are experienced after one receives the vaccine occur within the first roughly 24 to 48 hours of receiving that vaccine.

Other delayed types of responses over a period of several days to say 3 to 4 weeks, those are in the distinct minority. And so by the time you get out to the 2-month timeframe, you're very unlikely to see adverse reactions to the vaccine.

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