Are there any side effects from the Pfizer vaccine that are not treatable?
There are generally three time frames, when it comes to vaccine side effects – immediate, short term and long term.
Immediate side effects include being allergic to the shot, called anaphylaxis, and medical staff delivering the vaccines are highly trained to deal with this, if it takes place. That’s why people are required to wait around after the shot – to ensure they don’t have an allergic reaction, and treat it if it does take place.
Short term, within the first 72 hours after the vaccine, you get a big boost in your antibody response, which generally comes along with a sore arm, headache, fevers and aches and pains.
If you get none of those side effects at all – it doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working, it’s just that some people are more susceptible to those effects.
Long term, within the next 6-8 weeks, there is one extremely rare side effect – inflammation of the heart. This is either myocarditis (inflammation of the heart itself), pericarditis (inflammation of the fluid filled sac around your heart), or a combination of both (myopericarditis).
These conditions occur normally among the general population for a variety of reasons, at a very, very low rate – in young men it’s about 37 cases per million, and in young women it’s about 16 per million.
What we’re finding with the Pfizer vaccine, is that there’s a very, very small increase in the number of cases of those, above the usual ‘background’ rate.
More research is being done to understand this increase, but from the 100’s of millions of doses of Pfizer administered across Europe and the US, scientists have discerned that the approximate risk of getting myocarditis or pericarditis from the Pfizer jab, across all ages range, is about 1-2 in a million, which is about the same odds as getting struck by lightning this year.
Younger people appear to be more at risk, and if you’re under 40, the odds are about 1 in 125,000, which is still extremely small – about a quarter of the risk of you dying in a car accident this year.
Both conditions are very treatable. Most people with one of those conditions will go to hospital and be treated with steroids, while being monitored, and will generally recover completely within a week.
Beyond eight weeks, following the vaccine, there has never been a side effect attributed - to any vaccine. After eight weeks, your immune system goes back to baseline, and the vaccine has long since been eliminated from your body. The only thing that persists is the memory, within your immune system, of how to fight Covid by producing the right antibodies, if it re-emerges.