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Watch Out For This COVID Vaccine Side Effect, Says Dr. Fauci

“When you get vaccinated, you get a sore arm for maybe a day,” Dr. Fauci told Ricky Martin.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The coronavirus vaccines are here, and with them a bit of hesitancy: Sure, they keep you safe from sickness, but can they make you sick, too? In a pair of interviews recently with singer Ricky Martin and football player Marshawn Lynch, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, laid out the side effects you can expect. Read the next 6 slides to see what you might feel, and why he says it's ultimately safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.


You Might Feel a Sore Arm


Perhaps the most common vaccine side effect, "when you get vaccinated, you get a sore arm for maybe a day," Dr. Fauci told Martin. This is similar to a flu vaccine. "Arm soreness in the hours and days following the injection is a normal response. It doesn't mean there's a problem or that the injection was given in the wrong spot," says a doctor at Kaiser Permanente. "Soreness is actually a good sign that your immune system is getting hard at work, making antibodies to protect against the virus. Any worries you may have about flu shot pain should pale in comparison to the concerns about getting the flu itself."


You Might Feel Fatigue


"When you get the second dose, you can feel a fatigue," says Dr. Fauci. According to Novant Health:  "Daniel Brewer, a neonatal nurse practitioner at Novant Health Hemby Children's Hospital, recommends a 'couch day' after the second dose. He said the onset of some expected effects began about 12 hours after getting vaccinated. Overnight, Brewer had chills, a headache and muscle and joint pain. He woke up the next day fatigued, but his symptoms resolved themselves in about 24 hours." "For me, it felt like my body was actively building antibodies or working on fighting something new, but I was comforted in knowing that these were potential effects ahead of time," Brewer said. "I definitely recommend a couch day the day following your second dose."


You Might Feel a Muscle Ache

Woman suffering from neck pain

Dr. Fauci says you might feel a "little muscle ache." "As with many vaccines, there are some side effects"—according to critical care specialist Rachel Scheraga, MD—"but those side effects are relatively mild," says the Cleveland Clinic. "The side effects have mainly been arm soreness, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches and some instances of fever and chills. The data shows that side effects are more commonly felt after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine rather than after the first dose. With Johnson & Johnson, the most commonly reported side effects were arm soreness, headache, muscle aches and nausea. Most of the side effects occurred one to two days after vaccination."


These Side Effects Last About a Day Tops, Says Dr. Fauci

Happy vaccinated woman gesturing thumbs up.

"It virtually never lasts any more than 24 hours or so. And then it's fine. So it's a quite safe vaccine," says Dr. Fauci. The CDC says you might feel "tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea" in addition to the aforementioned arm pain.


Dr. Fauci Wants the Black Community to Understand the Vaccine is Safe

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

Lynch asked Fauci if the vaccine would reduce his life expectancy, a worry he has as a Black man. "Well, let's answer that because they're all really, really a good question," said Dr. Fauci. "So what do we know—when we tested the vaccine in African-American and Hispanics, it was safe and it induced the kind of response that was literally identical to the response in whites. It was the same as whites. It was as safe as it was in whites, and it was effective as it was in whites." Not only that but "we know that when African-Americans get infected with this coronavirus, that they have a much greater chance of getting seriously ill and dying than whites do." All the more reason for that community to get vaccinated.


Dr. Fauci Said the Day Will Come When We Can All Hug

Family reunion

Martin imagined a world where we could all hug one another. "That day will come. Ricky. I promise you," said Dr. Fauci. "Keep getting vaccinated. And until that time where you have a very low level of infection, continue to observe the public health measures." So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek