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Tampa Bay health experts share what's known of COVID-19 vaccine health risks

Posted at 6:44 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 18:44:59-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Regulators in the UK are warning people with a “significant history” of allergic reactions that they should not get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while they investigate possible adverse reactions.

As interest rises in a COVID-19 vaccine, ABC Action News took your questions of safety concerns to the experts.

“The short-term risks are basically just different adverse effects that are normally associated with vaccines, so things that you would normally expect to see if you get a vaccination,” said USF Health’s Dr. Michael Teng. “You have injection site pain. There are things like fever, chills, headache fatigue. These are relatively normal things to see in a vaccine.”

Dr. Teng suggests if you have life-threatening allergies, hold off on a vaccine if it is available to you while regulators investigate adverse reactions. He explains the first dose of a vaccine will try to teach your immune system to recognize the virus, while the second dose will try to ramp up your immune system.

“You might have a little more swelling or redness in the second dose. You might actually feel a little bit more fatigued that’s more significant in the second dose," said Teng. "But most of the adverse effects that were listed in the clinical trials were kind of mild to moderate.”

Companies will continue monitoring safety data for any long-term health risks. Dr. Teng explains the health risks from getting COVID-19 are greater than the health risks from the vaccine. While many people may be asymptomatic, the country has watched others suffer moderate to severe cases, with some long-haulers dealing with lingering symptoms.

“The vaccines we have coming out that we have data for they’re as safe as pretty much every other vaccine that we’ve seen. I think you will have some occasional, rare side effects,” said Teng.

Dr. Teng says so far, the science has been sound. He shared that getting COVID-19 is not an experiment he wants to try.

“As a scientist, I love experiments, but when the end result of the experiment could be me going to the hospital and dying then that’s not an experiment I want to do,” said Teng.