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Dr. Fauci Reveals Rare Side Effect of COVID Vaccine

The infectious disease expert got his own first dose recently.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
Woman feeling headache and touching her head.

Side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine are mostly minor, and although it's rare, some people do get allergic reactions after receiving it, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, on Friday. "The side effects of the vaccine and the first dose are generally mild," said Fauci during a virtual discussion with the Virginia Department of Health. He used his personal experience as an example. "As with the typical kind of side effects you get when you get a flu shot or any other of the shots that you get, you get a little bit of an ache in the arm, which I got it, that's about it." Read on to see what else you might feel—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Who should be alert to chance of allergic reaction?

Fauci said he didn't feel anything until six to 10 hours after receiving the first dose of the two-shot vaccine. "And before I went to bed, I felt a little ache in my arm, but not enough to interfere with my going to sleep. I woke up in the morning, it was still there. By the next morning, it was gone." 

Fauci said he didn't experience aches, chills or fever, but some people have. "Now I'm going to be getting my booster shot, on the 19th of January," he added. "And I will likely get a little bit more of an ache and maybe a little bit feeling kind of down and fatigued, but it almost never lasts more than 24 hours." 

Fauci said the incidence of severe side effects is "very rare." "There have been some allergic anaphylactic reactions to the tune of about 11 per 1 million people that get the vaccine," he said. "And it almost exclusively is in individuals who have a history of strong allergic reactions. When you do have that history, it's a good idea to, if you take your vaccine, take it in a place where they can respond to and give you medication for an allergic reaction in case you're one of those 11 in a million who get it." 

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

Getting the vaccine is crucial to ending the epidemic, say Fauci and other officials; they urge Americans to take the shots as soon as they're eligible. "What we need to do, and this is absolutely critical, if we want to crush this outbreak, we've got to get the overwhelming majority of the United States population to get vaccinated," said Fauci. In his estimation, 75 to 80 percent of the U.S. population will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before herd immunity develops and we can return to pre-pandemic normality.

The CDC says those who have had "severe allergic reactions" to the vaccine ingredients should not get one

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) had its own advice about the vaccine and allergic reactions: "CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions—also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital," they advise. "If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.  If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get the second dose."

How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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