The COVID-19 vaccine is just days to weeks away from becoming a reality. However, while the FDA confirmed on Tuesday that the Pfizer vaccine appears to meet the standard for emergency use authorization, confirming both its safety and efficacy, there are still a lot of people who are concerned about its potential side effects. One nurse researcher, Kristen Choi, Ph.D., RN, wants to raise awareness about the "worst-case scenario" side effects of the two-part vaccine that could potentially save thousands upon thousands of lives if enough of the population rolls up their sleeves and receives it. SPOILER ALERT: She says take the vaccine anyway! It's essential to do so, to stop this pandemic! Read on,. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
The Worst Symptom Will Likely Be a Fever
In a perspective piece published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, Choi details her experience receiving the experimental COVID-19 vaccine in a phase 3 trial. She reveals that her worst symptom was a fleeting but extremely high fever — which happens to be one of the main initial symptoms of the virus itself — and that it appeared after she received the booster a month after her initial injection.
She explains that after the second dose, she immediately started experiencing symptoms. "My arm quickly became painful at the injection site, much more than the first time. By the end of the day, I felt light-headed, chilled, nauseous, and had a splitting headache. I went to bed early and fell asleep immediately. Around midnight, I woke up feeling worse—feverish and chilled, nauseated, dizzy, and hardly able to lift my arm from muscle pain at the injection site. My temperature was 99.4 °F (37.4 °C). I tossed and turned, sleeping little during the rest of the night," she wrote.
"When I woke up again at 5:30 am, I felt hot. Burning. I took my temperature and looked at the reading: 104.9 °F (40.5 °C). This was the highest fever I can ever remember having, and it scared me. I took acetaminophen and drank a glass of water. When the research office opened at 9 am, I called to report my reaction to the injection. Thankfully, my fever had come down to 102.0 °F (38.9 °C) by then."
She continued to explain that the research nurse confirmed that "A lot of people have reactions after the second injection." She continued monitoring her symptoms, with her fever hovering around 99.5 °F (37.5 °C) for the rest of the day. "By the next morning, all my symptoms were gone except a sore, swollen bump at the injection site," she added.
These Symptoms Are Worst Case Scenario
It is important to note that Choi's symptoms are not a common side effect of the vaccine. Two vaccine experts, William J. Moss, MD, MPH, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland and Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, confirmed to
Medscape Medical News that they are the worst case scenario.
"The type of side effects we're seeing with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are typical of any vaccine, though there is a spectrum," Moss explained. "The numbers I've seen range from maybe 2% to 10% — maybe up to 15% — of people having these kinds of really noticeable side effects. Again all transient. But some people have more severe [reactions] than others."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said "prolonged side effects" from vaccines like this are "very rare," mentioning "side effects that occur" can include "immediate pain in the arm and the fever."
Keep in mind that COVID-19 is responsible for the deaths of 1.54 million people globally. Of the survivors hundreds of thousands haven't fully recovered, with many suffering from prolonged symptoms for months on end. However, vaccine symptoms — even the most extreme — "are always transient, lasting 12-36 hours, maybe 48 hours," Moss reiterates.
"I Would Do it Again in a Heartbeat"
Choi also clarified that it hasn't been confirmed whether she actually received the COVID-19 vaccine or if it was the placebo, but due to her symptoms she is confident it was the former.
Choi wants to make it clear that she is all for the vaccine. "I would do it again in a heartbeat even if I knew I was going to have the same reaction," she said.
As for yourself, follow Dr. Anthony Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, until he says not to, vaccine or no vaccine—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene and to protect your life and the lives of others, and don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.