What are the side effects of the latest COVID booster shots?

Those seeking a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today will not be getting the original recipe for the shot, instead they’re rolling up their sleeve for the bivalent booster, which is meant to target the original strain of the virus plus the current dominant strain, the omicron variant.

But with the new vaccine, many wonder if there will be new side effects.

With the first formula of the vaccine, headaches, fever, chills, and nausea were expected in adults after receiving a shot, according to the CDC.

For kids 6 months to 3 years old, some patients experienced soreness at the injection site, swollen lymph nodes, irritability, sleepiness, or loss of appetite. For kids 4 to 17 years old, symptoms were similar to what adults experience, but it was more likely after the second shot, the CDC shared.

The CDC has noted that while many report side effects, they tend to be mild and pass in two days.

During a recent media briefing, Andrew Pekosz, a virologist with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, shared what could be expected with the new dose, The Hill reported.

“All the side effects from the bivalent booster (in clinical trials) were very similar to what we saw with the regular booster and even going back to the initial vaccination,” Pekosz said. “Most often, it’s redness at the site of inoculation, some soreness, feeling tired for a day or two afterwards — all the same, side effects we’re seeing at relatively the same rates with the bivalent booster.”

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine in the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, shared with HuffPost that not much has changed.

“The anticipated side effects are really exactly what would be expected to occur after the previous vaccinations,” Schaffner said.

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s new bivalent COVID-19 booster were authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration. The Moderna shot is ready for adults, and Pfizer’s is available for people 12 and older.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, shared in an interview with News Talk 830 WCCO earlier this month that the fight against COVID-19 is not over, and getting vaccinated is important. Still, it is unknown how the new boosters will hold up against new strains of the virus.

“In terms of the new boosters, they may play some role in improved protection against BA.5. I don’t really know how much,” Osterholm said. “They surely are not any worse than the previous vaccines, so that’s important to note.”

While many remain skeptical of the vaccines, Osterholm says to get as many doses of the vaccines as are available to you because “that is what’s keeping people, more often than not, out of hospitals, seriously ill, and from dying.”

But when it comes to how patients should treat possible side effects after receiving a dose of the vaccine, Schaffer shared with HuffPost that taking a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory drug can help. However, if the discomfort worsens, he recommended contacting your healthcare provider.

He also noted that adverse reactions are infrequent, occurring in a few cases per million, and typically occur within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine.

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