Duke, UNC researchers continue to examine COVID-19 vaccine side effects

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine you’re more than likely among the millions of Americans who have experienced some sort of side effects.

“You could have a fever, chills, muscle aches,” said Dr. Adia Ross, chief medical officer at Duke Regional Hospital. “Most commonly people will have their arm hurt a little bit.”

As more people receive the vaccine, researchers at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill are noticing an interesting trend.

“Young folks tend to have more side effects than older folks,” said Dr. Ross. “People over 55 appear to have less of these side effects.”

“There are immunological and biological differences between our immune system,” said Dr. David Wohl from the UNC School of Medicine. “That may be why we see that because estrogen may have some effects, and testosterone may have some effects, that blunt the immune system.”

According to the CDC, side effects are a sign that your body is building immunity, but you should call your doctor if they don’t go away after a few days.

“Really what you’re looking for is something highly out of the ordinary,” said Dr. Wohl. “Just something that’s just not right, I’m concerned. I can’t get out of bed, and it’s been more than a day. Those are the types of things I’d be worried about.”

As part of required government reporting, doctors have seen cases of minor side effects happen up to two weeks after vaccination.

“If you start having a cough or shortness of breath, I would be concerned that you’re one of those unlucky people who was exposed to COVID and got a vaccine, and you actually have COVID,” said Dr. Ross.

While both doctors agree more clinical trials are needed to understand the full impact, they believe people need to realize one thing.

“I can take it for two or three days knowing I’m going to be safe and I’m not going to die from COVID,” said Dr. Ross.

“COVID-19 kills people,” said Dr. Wohl. “These vaccines aren’t killing people.”

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