17th September 2021, Dr Chee L Khoo

As with any vaccine, you may have some side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Common side effects after Pfizer include:

  • · pain or swelling at the injection site
  • · tiredness
  • · headache
  • · muscle pain
  • · fever and chills
  • · joint pain.

Less common side effects after Pfizer include:

  • · redness at the injection site
  • · nausea
  • · enlarged lymph nodes
  • · feeling unwell
  • · pain in limb
  • · insomnia
  • · itching at the injection site.

These side effects are usually mild and usually go away within one or two days. Some recipients will experience more significant flu-like symptoms from this vaccination compared to other common vaccinations and may require time away from normal activities. These symptoms may occur after either dose but are more common after the second dose.

If you experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. These help to reduce some of the above symptoms (you do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination). If there is swelling at the injection site, you can use a cold compress.

Rare side effects that have been reported after Pfizer are:

  • · severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • · myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart). Most reported cases have been mild and recovered quickly, although longer-term follow-up of these cases is ongoing. Cases have been reported predominantly after the second dose and predominantly in younger males (aged < 30 years).

You should seek medical attention after vaccination if you:

  • · think you are having an allergic reaction. Call 000 if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, a fast heartbeat or collapsing
  • · have chest pain, pressure or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, skipped beats or ‘fluttering’, fainting, shortness of breath or pain with breathing
  • · are worried about a potential side effect or have new or unexpected symptoms
  • · have an expected side effect of the vaccine which has not gone away after a few days.

Remember your second appointment

It is important that you receive two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. These doses are generally given 3-6 weeks apart, but longer intervals may be recommended in special circumstances. The second dose is likely to prolong the duration of protection against COVID-19.