Booster vaccination: what side effects can occur?

Around 33.4 million people in Germany have already received a vaccination booster. The Robert Koch Institute reported on Wednesday. However, young people under 30 and pregnant women should only receive the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer. The background to the recommendation is new data on side effects. But what are the side effects? An overview.

What vaccines are approved for booster vaccination?

The active ingredients of Biontech and Moderna are approved as booster vaccines. While Biontech and Pfizer’s vaccine was approved on October 4, 2021, Moderna’s vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency (Ema) about three weeks later. The active ingredients have remained the same. When approved, it was only tested for the effect a third injection would have.

Since then, people over 18 can receive a third dose of one of the two mRNA vaccines, provided the second is at least three months old. In severely immunocompromised people, the booster vaccination can be given as early as 28 days after the second vaccination.

Who should receive which vaccine for the booster vaccination?

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, the mRNA vaccine that was used for the primary vaccination should be administered if possible. If this is not available, the other mRNA vaccine can also be vaccinated. If a vector vaccine has been used for the primary vaccination, for example from Astra-Zeneca or from Johnson & Johnson, it can also be boosted with the two active ingredients of Biontech and Moderna.

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Biontech: What are the side effects of the vaccine booster?

As of September 2021, the US health authority FDA approved a vaccination booster with Biontech / Pfizer for certain groups of people in the United States. The authority included a clinical study with more than 300 people tested in its decision. The side effects of a third dose of the mRNA vaccine have sometimes been studied.

The result: The frequency and severity of vaccine reactions were similar to known side effects following the primary vaccination. The most common vaccine reactions after the booster vaccination were:

  • Pain at the injection site – 83%
  • Fatigue – 63.7%
  • Headache – 48.4 percent

Quelle: FDA Backgrounder, September 17, 2021

Muscle or joint pain and chills have been seen less frequently. According to the FDA, however, more people – about 5.2% – complained of swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits than after the second dose of Comirnaty, the Biontech vaccine. In all affected people, reaction to vaccination was evident within three days of vaccination. He calmed down in two to eight days. No allergic reactions have been reported.

Moderna: what side effects can you expect from the booster vaccination?

According to Ema, the side effects after the booster vaccination with Moderna’s vaccine, Spikevax, are also similar to the vaccination reactions after the second dose. Compared to the first vaccination, only half the dose is given with the booster vaccination.

In a clinical study with 171 participants whose first and second vaccines had previously received the Moderna vaccine, the following side effects were found in 18-65 year olds:

  • Pain at the injection site – 86%
  • Fatigue – 62 percent
  • Headache – 58.9 percent
  • Muscle pain – 49.6 percent
  • Joint pain – 41.9%
  • Chills – 40.3 percent

Source: FDA Backgrounder, October 14, 2021

Swollen lymph nodes affected 24.8 percent of those aged 18 to 65. Among those over 65, the proportion was 5.3 percent. No dangerous allergic reaction has occurred.

In the past, very rare cases of inflammation of the heart muscle and pericardium have been observed in younger subjects under 30 years of age after vaccination with mRNA vaccines – more often with Spikevax than with Comirnaty.

Sweden then temporarily suspended the Moderna vaccine in people under the age of 30.

According to the current state of knowledge, the course of inflammation of the heart muscle and the pericardium is “mainly mild”, according to Stiko. According to Ema, the exact risk of inflammatory heart disease or other rare side effects after a booster vaccination is not yet known.

Following: Booster vaccinations for new corona infections? – The most important questions and answers


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