Science shows that even the most serious side effects for any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines, occur within just a few weeks.3
Allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare and usually occur within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine.1
Most potential side effects of vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, are mild and go away in a few days, including pain at the injection site, fatigue or fever.2,6
The extent and severity of side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are similar to those from other vaccines.2
Serious side-effects are very rare and any side effects nearly always occur within a couple of weeks of a person being vaccinated and the longest time a side effect for any type of vaccine appeared has been six weeks.3, 6
The process your body goes through once its immune system has been stimulated lasts for about six weeks. Any reaction your body is going to have will occur while your immune system is responding, which is why we have never seen chronic conditions emerge years or decades after vaccination.3
This is why international medical regulators, including Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), require the first few months of safety data before approving new vaccines.6
Even though the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are the first mRNA vaccines to be approved for use, the same mRNA vaccine technology that is used in the COVID-19 vaccines has been in human trials since at least 2011.5
Director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Dr Paul Goepfert, said COVID-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have mRNA molecules that are especially fragile and are no longer in the body within a day or so.
“You wouldn’t expect any of these vaccines to have any long-term side effects. And in fact, this has never occurred with any vaccine,” Dr Goepfert said.3,4
COVID-19 vaccines have been tested by scientists for months prior to being released to the public.6 Medical Director of the Population Health Science Program, Dr Robert Jacobson, at the Mayo Clinic in the USA, states multiple studies have found that vaccines cannot cause chronic conditions to emerge years or decades after vaccination.3
The vaccines used in Australia – AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna (Spikevax) – have been given to hundreds of millions of people around the world since December 2020 and in Australia since February 2021. The number of people vaccinated over a short period of time helped identify serious side effects quickly.
Each of the vaccines have had very rare but serious side effects identified, which all occur within the first six weeks after vaccination. These are:
- Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS)
- Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP)
- Myocarditis and pericarditis.
The TGA is responsible for approving and monitoring all medications in Australia and publishes a weekly safety report that highlights any side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines and provides an update on the number of people who have experienced them.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America has developed a timeline of vaccines that have been associated with significant side effects and safety concerns since 1955. Take a look to see what has been learned from past safety concerns.
Therapeutic Goods Administration Weekly safety report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Historical vaccine safety concerns
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines
Nature The tangled history of mRNA vaccines
Reuters Fact check: Genetic materials from mRNA vaccines do not multiply in your body forever
The University of Western Australia How we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long term side effects
Better Heath Channel Victoria Government Immunisation – side effects
- SA Health What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines
- Australian Government Department of Health After your COVID-19 vaccination
- National Geographic Vaccines are highly unlikely to cause side effects long after getting the shot
- UAB Reporter What are the long-term side effects of COVID vaccines? 3 things to know
- European Commission Five things you need to know about: mRNA vaccine safety
- The Conversation How do we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long-term side-effects?
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