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Side effects of Covid vaccine boosters occur at the same rate as reactions after second doses

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Side effects after booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are just as common as after second doses, a new report finds.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at reports made to v-safe — a voluntary smartphone-based safety monitoring system — after people received a third dose.

About 79 percent had injection site reactions, such as pain, redness, or swelling, and 74 percent reported other side effects such as fever, headache, chills, or joint pain.

The numbers are very similar to the 77 percent of patients who reported side effects at the injection site and 76 percent who had other reactions after the second dose.

The CDC says the findings show that “no unexpected patterns” occur after booster shots and that third doses appear safe and well tolerated.

A new CDC study looked at 22,191 reports of side effects after people received their booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Pictured: A man receives a third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Sept. 28

Overall, 79.4% reported injection site reactions such as pain, redness or swelling after the third dose of either vaccine, compared to 77.6% after the second dose.  'Systemic reactions' such as headache, fever, were reported in 74.1% of the others after the booster injection, compared to 76.5% after the second dose

Overall, 79.4% reported injection site reactions such as pain, redness or swelling after the third dose of either vaccine, compared to 77.6% after the second dose. ‘Systemic reactions’ such as headache, fever, were reported in 74.1% of the others after the booster injection, compared to 76.5% after the second dose

For the report, published Tuesday, the CDC looked at reports made between August 12, 2021 and September 19, 2021 in the agency’s smartphone tool, v-safe.

The tool uses text messages and web surveys so that people who receive the recordings can report any symptoms or side effects.

During the study period, only immunocompromised Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines were authorized to receive booster shots.

Since then, third doses have been approved for adults age 65 or older, ages 18 to 64 with underlying conditions, and ages 18 to 64 who are at high risk because of their job or where they live — but only for the Pfizer vaccine.

Of the 2.21 million people who received a booster injection during the study period, 22,191 were reported to v-safe.

The report found that 1.8 percent — or 401 of recipients — sought medical attention and only 13, or 0.1 percent, were hospitalized.

Reasons why people sought medical care or needed hospitalization were not included in the v-safe survey,

Of the recipients, 12,591 reported being v-safe between zero and seven days after receiving all three of their doses.

The results showed that 79.4 percent of people reported injection site reactions after dose 3 compared to 77.6 percent after dose 2.

Additionally, 74.1 percent reported other side effects after the booster injection compared to: 76.5 percent after the second dose.

Of the adults who received three doses of Moderna, reactions such as itching, pain, swelling and redness were more common after dose 3 than those two at 84.7 percent compared to 83.5 percent.

However, so-called systemic reactions – including fatigue, headache, fever, muscle aches, joint pain and nausea – were more common after the second dose.

Overall, 81.3 percent of recipients reported these side effects after dose 2 compared to 79 percent after dose 3.

Similarly, 74.1 percent of Pfizer recipients reported injection site side effects after the third dose compared to 71.7 percent after the second dose.

In addition, systemic reactions were reported less frequently after dose 3 than dose 2 at 69.2 percent compared to 71.7 percent.

What’s more, of the roughly 9,500 people who reported pain after the third dose of either vaccine, 93.3 percent said their pain was mild or moderate.

Only 6.7 percent had pain that they said made daily activities difficult or impossible.

“Voluntary reports to v-safe found no unexpected patterns of side effects after an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine,” the authors wrote.

The CDC will continue to monitor vaccine safety, including for additional doses of COVID-19.

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