As governments around the world roll out the COVID-19 vaccines, the burning question on everyone's mind is "How safe are the COVID-19 vaccines?". In addition to the quick facts about the COVID-19 vaccines, I gathered the answers from the experts including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and government bodies to help you get a clearer understanding of what you're in for.
1) How do we know that COVID-19 vaccines are really safe?
WHO shares that strict protections are in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness. International medical regulators such as Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will not approve new vaccine without sufficient safety data.
Testing of vaccines in clinical trials have been taking place since mid-2020, and the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have shown excellent safety results. More than 200 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine worldwide since December 2020. Information coming from these vaccine recipients provides confidence that COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shares that trials for the first two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have not reported any serious safety concerns. The safety data are continuously reviewed by the FDA and expert panels including fully independent safety monitoring boards. As with all vaccines, WHO and regulatory authorities will continuously monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines to confirm that they remain safe for all who receive them.
2) Are the mRNA vaccines safe since they are based on new technology?
mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and do not interfere with human DNA. mRNA is essentially message that tells our cells how to make proteins that trigger the immune response inside the body. That immune response is what protects against infection if we are exposed to the virus. In fact, mRNA vaccine technology has been studied for several decades, including in the contexts of Zika, rabies, and influenza vaccines. WHO shares that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology has been rigorously assessed for safety, and clinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a long-lasting immune response.
3) Are there any side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
In short, yes. The common, uncommon and rare side-effects have been detected by now given the significant number of vaccines administered to date. The good news is serious or long-lasting side-effects are very, very rare. The COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea, and pain at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own.