Coronavirus vaccines work even if you don’t have any side effects

Centers for Disease Control infographic describing common side-effects of the second coronavirus vaccine

Infographic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Even if you don’t get any flu-like symptoms after getting the coronavirus vaccine, you are still protected from the virus, Peter Loftus reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“I don’t think someone should correlate the extent of their reactions to the vaccine with protection from infection,” H. Cody Meissner, chief of the pediatric infectious diseases division at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, told Loftus. “We know that people who don’t respond to a vaccine in terms of the side effects still are well protected. The vaccines work even if you don’t have fatigue and headache and fever and muscle pain and joint pain.”

At the same time, other experts told Loftus that more research is needed about the side effects of vaccines.

One such study at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who had greater side effects after receiving either the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine had slightly higher antibody levels. However, all people in the study who got the vaccine had a good immune response, co-author E. John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology, told Loftus.

Loftus reports: “A Pfizer spokeswoman said the side effects don’t indicate the level of immunity conferred by its vaccine. It wouldn’t be able to demonstrate such high efficacy, if the only people protected were the ones with symptoms, she said.”

The Cleveland Clinic also offers a short question and answer on this topic, saying that the statistics from the Pfizer and Moderna trials show that a little over half of vaccinated people had no side effects, but were still 94% protected, “so you don’t need to worry if you don’t have any symptoms after your Covid-19 vaccinations.”

Loftus talked to experts about why people’s immune systems react in different ways to a vaccine. They noted that general health, age, gender, and heredity all play a role in how one reacts. He reports that side effects are generally more pronounced after the second dose of two-dose coronavirus vaccines, and people who have had the virus have had more pronounced side effects after the first dose.

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