Here, we assess some of the most common side effects of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
More recently it has proved to prevent patients experiencing severe COVID and dying from the South African mutation, however it is significantly less efficient in preventing infection of the virus completely.
In a previous article, we addressed numerous rumours about the side effects of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, but what about the Pfizer vaccine?
Common side effects
Generally, all vaccines come with the risk of side effects. Some of the most common side effects of the Pfizer vaccine include:
- Tenderness, swelling and/or redness where the injection has been administered
- Muscle ache
- Feeling tired (fatigue)
- Fever (temperature above 37.8°C)
Around 1 in 10 people will experience these side effects.
Uncommon side effects
The more uncommon side effects that 1 in 100 people may experience include enlarged lymph nodes that can last up to 2 weeks, but this can be expected a few days after receiving the vaccine as a sign of the immune system’s response.
A rare side effect that can occur and affects around 1 in 1,000 people may be temporary one-sided facial drooping. Some may also suffer from an allergic reaction, but the data on this is unknown as no cases have been reported.
These side effects are not life-threatening and will settle on their own, however, if you are concerned you can contact your doctor, nurse or local pharmacist for advice. You can also take paracetamol to ease some of the symptoms.
What does the Pfizer vaccine contain?
The active substance in the vaccine is BNT162b2 RNA. After dilution, the vial contains 6 doses, of 0.3 mL with 30 micrograms of mRNA each.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) gives our cells information about what the virus looks like so that it can make good antibodies in response. Unlike some vaccines, mRNA does not contain any fragments of the actual virus.
There have been some concerns about whether or not mRNA can alter a person’s DNA. These rumours are not true. The vaccine simply instructs the body on how to create an organic defence against the virus via information about the virus’ structure.
The other ingredients include:
- Polyethylene glycol/macrogol (PEG) as part of ALC-0159.
- ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
- ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
- Potassium chloride
- Potassium dihydrogen phosphate
- Sodium chloride
- Disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
- Water for injections
It should be stored in a freezer at -80 °C to -60 °C and once thawed the vaccine should be diluted and administered by a healthcare professional within 6 hours.
If you know are you allergic to any of these ingredients you should consult your doctor before receiving the vaccine. You should also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and taking other medicines.
You can also find help on how to overcome needle phobia here.