Pfizer booster vaccine: Three side effects reported ‘more frequently’ after third dose

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A succession of studies have vindicated the decision to offer a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine ahead of winter. The latest thumbs up comes out of Israel. The study found a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 88 percent.

Naturally, health bodies continue to monitor the safety of the third dose as it makes its way into populations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the US-based drug watchdog – puts out a weekly safety report to monitor the effects of the booster shot.

Although there is no cause for concern, it has found local reactions to be reported “more frequently” after dose three than dose two.

Local reactions included injection site reaction, fatigue and muscle aches/headaches.

This should not deter you from getting the booster vaccine: local reactions are to be expected and a sign that the immune system is functioning properly.

What’s more, the data makes the case for getting vaccinated unassailable.

Research suggests getting a third dose significantly reduces the risk of disease-related hospitalisation and death.

The study carried out by Israel’s Clalit Research Institute in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University compared data from 728,321 individuals aged 12 and older who received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine with the same number of people who received only two doses at least five months prior.

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According to the study, receiving the Pfizer booster shot reduced COVID-related hospitalisation by 93 per cent, COVID-related death by 81 percent, and severe COVID-19 illness by 92 percent, compared with receiving just two doses.

“These results show convincingly that the third dose of the vaccine is highly effective against severe COVID-19-related outcomes in different age groups and population subgroups, one week after the third dose,” said Ran Balicer, senior author of the study and director of the Clalit Research Institute, in a press release.

The study took place in Israel from July 30 to Sept 23.

Researchers looked at the number of COVID-19-related hospital admissions, deaths and severity of disease based on criteria from the US-based National Institutes of Health.

The study also found that a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection by 88 percent.

“To date, one of the main drivers of vaccine hesitancy has been a lack of information regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine,” said Ben Reis, director of the Predictive Medicine Group at Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Health Informatics Program, in the press release.

“This careful epidemiological study provides reliable information on third-dose vaccine effectiveness, which we hope will be helpful to those who have not yet decided about vaccination with a third dose.”

Booster shot – everything you need to know

Booster vaccine doses are available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.

This includes:

  • People aged 50 and over
  • People who live and work in care homes
  • Frontline health and social care workers
  • People aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • People aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
  • People aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).

People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.

Most people can book a vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy.

If you have not received an invite but it’s been six months and one week (190 days) since your second dose, you can try to book your appointment online without an invite.

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