COVID Booster Shot Has Side Effects Similar to the Second Vaccine Dose, Says CDC

People who received a COVID-19 booster shot had mild or moderate symptoms such as headache, arm pain and fatigue

covid vaccine
A medical professional giving a vaccine shot. Photo: Getty

As a portion of Americans prepare to get their COVID-19 booster shot, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control found that the side effects are similar to what people experience after getting their second vaccine dose.

The report showed that among 22,191 people who received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, they either had mild to moderate symptoms or none at all.

Just under 80% of people had reactions such as headache, arm pain and fatigue after getting their third dose, typically the day after injection. About 28% of people said they could not go about their usual daily activities after getting the booster shot and needed to rest.

A slightly higher number of people reported feeling side effects after their third vaccine dose compared to the people who experienced symptoms from the second dose, 79.4% versus 77.6%.

The reports came from an even mix of age groups — around 30% each from people 18-49, 50-64 and 65-74.

Nearly 2.8 million Americans have received a booster shot since mid-August, when the CDC approved third doses for immunocompromised people. That number will now grow after the federal health agency said Friday that people over 65 years old and those with high-risk jobs, such as frontline health care workers, can also get a booster shot.

"This latest report includes some of the data of our early experience with third doses," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday during a White House COVID task force briefing. "The frequency and types of side effects were similar to those seen after the second vaccine doses, and were mostly mild or moderate and short-lived."

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While some Americans are now getting a third dose, the Biden administration is still working on convincing others to get their first. As of Sept. 29, 64.4% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 55.8% are fully vaccinated. Of the eligible population, those aged 12 and up, 75.3% have received at least one dose and 64.9% are fully vaccinated.

President Joe Biden, who is 78, got his third dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday and urged those who hadn't started their inoculations to do it now.

"That distinct minority is causing an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country," he said. "This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. That's why I'm moving forward with vaccination requirements wherever I can."

Biden later added, "Please do the right thing. Please get the shot. It can save your life. It can save the lives of those around you. And it's easy, accessible, and it's free."

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