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What are side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

More than a million Americans have received both doses, so what are the side effects being reported?

NEW ORLEANS — Some may be wondering what kind of reaction, if any, they could have to the COVID-19 vaccine. What are the side effects? Will they be the same for each dose? 

More than 1.6 million Americans and counting have been vaccinated so far against COVID-19. So, when it's your turn, what can you expect?

"So the common feelings people can have are pain or soreness near the injection site," said Dr. Benjamin Springgate, LSU Health Chief of Community and Population Medicine. "That's in the shoulder, so people might feel a little sore for a day or two."

You may also get a rash or redness on the arm. Fatigue, body aches and pains, or a low-grade fever have also been felt. And while some may experience one or all of these side-effects, others may feel nothing at all.

"This of course does not mean you've been infected with the virus or that you're sick with the virus," Springgate said. "This is your immune system building up a response and showing that this is what I'm going to do if I need to fight off the actual virus."

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses. Both can trigger a response.

"The theoretical things that someone can feel are the same after each dose," Springgate said. "Some people report feeling maybe a little bit more in terms of side effects after the second dose."

We asked why that is.

"Well you've already received some of the first vaccine, of course, which causes your body to be ready if it's exposed again. So in that state of readiness, when that second exposure comes and your body begins to produce those proteins associated with the virus your immune system jumps on it and it starts firing on all cylinders," Dr. Springgate said. "Part of the usual way your body does that is by activating the immune system, activating inflammation and doing all it can to make sure you don't become infected or your infection is minimized."

In other words, experiencing these side-effects can be a good thing because it means the vaccine is doing its job. And whether you've had COVID-19 or not, when the time comes, officials say it's important everyone roll up their sleeve.

"This vaccination is safe, it's effective, it's going to save lives and it's going to help us out of this pandemic," he said.

Serious side effects have been reported, but it's rare. Springgate says the chances of that happening are "astronomically small." Possibly "one in several hundred-thousand."

If you've also recovered from COVID-19 it's still important you get vaccinated when your assigned time comes.

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