Why do some people react to Covid vaccine?

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Three different Covid vaccines have been approved for use in the UK from Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna. Vaccines often cause some mild side effects, so it is perhaps unsurprising that recipients of Covid vaccines have reported some side effects to date. Millions of Covid vaccines have now been administered, however, and reports of severe side effects have not been common.

What are common side effects of the Covid vaccine?

According to the NHS website, common side effects after receiving the Covid vaccine include:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

In recent days, several European countries have banned the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while investigations are ongoing into whether the vaccine can cause blood clots.

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still being administered in the UK, with England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, stating the evidence suggests “there is no overall excess signal or increased risk” from the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Professor Van-Tam said at a Downing Street press briefing on Wednesday: “Behind the scenes, there is a lot of work going on to look at whether there is a signal in relation to what we call venous thromboembolic events, clots, VTE for short.

“There’s a lot of evidence emerging now that is reassuring, that there is no overall excess signal or increased risk.

“I expect, without prejudice to their absolute findings, those to be the final conclusions of the EMA and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in due course.

“So, no evidence of increased risk, but as you heard from Professor Ramsay, a lot of evidence that the vaccine is actually saving lives.”

Why do some people react to the Covid vaccine?

People’s immune systems react to the Covid vaccine differently, which is why some people will experience side effects and others won’t experience any.

Ultimately, people react differently to vaccines because everyone has a “different make-up” when it comes to their immune systems.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, NHS consultant Dr Sreedhar Krishna said “our immune system determines both our response to infection and to vaccination.

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“Each person has a different make-up, with some people having a hyper-alert immune system.

“These hyper-alert immune systems can overreact at the slightest threat, and could include people with asthma, eczema or hay fever.”

There is some evidence to suggest women are more likely to experience side effects from the Covid vaccine.

Data from the US Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed 79.1 percent of vaccine side effects were reported by women, even though only 61.2 percent of the vaccines had been given to women.

The data was revealed in a study published last month, in which the CDC analysed data from the first 13.7 million recipients of the coronavirus vaccine in the US.

Dr Julianne Gee at the CDC’s immunisation office told the Telegraph: “Women in general have more reactions to a variety of vaccines, including influenza.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, who led trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, told the BBC age is also a “really important” factor in who gets side effects from a vaccine.

He said: “The older you are, the less the side effects – the over-70s have almost no side effects.”

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