The side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccination are usually mild to moderate and go away by themselves.

Most common side-effects

The most common side-effects are pain and sometimes swelling at the injection site on your arm, tiredness, headache, and fever. You may also experience muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and joint pain. These symptoms start within a day or so after vaccination and go away by themselves. Young people generally experience more discomfort from these side-effects than older people. These kinds of side-effects are not a reason to avoid getting the second vaccination. The side-effects could cause some inconvenience, and may cause some of the vaccinated people to miss work in the first 24-48 hours after vaccination. It is advisable to take this into account when planning vaccinations for certain professional groups, such as care workers.

For a complete overview of the possible side-effects, see the summary of product characteristics.

You can report side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb.

Allergies

If you know that you are allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the vaccine, then you should not be vaccinated. Also, if you had a severe allergic reaction after the first vaccination (and it was probably caused by the vaccination), you should not receive the second vaccination. 

It is possible for a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) to occur immediately after vaccination. The vaccine has been administered to many, many people all over the world now, and anaphylactic shock appears to be very rare. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction or breathing problems after a vaccination, always report this to the doctor at the vaccination site. After vaccination, everyone will remain at the vaccination site for 15 minutes longer so that any allergic reactions can be treated immediately.  

Trial dose of vaccine to predict side-effects

You cannot receive a trial dose of the vaccines.  However, everyone who receives a vaccine is monitored for 15 minutes after vaccination. If an allergic reaction does occur, it can be treated immediately.

Medications for side-effects

You can take paracetamol to relieve the symptoms. Do not take more than the amount stated in the paracetamol package leaflet. If you are concerned even so, you can contact your family doctor.

Fever after vaccination

If you develop a fever within 48 hours after receiving the vaccination, it is likely that the fever is a side-effect of the vaccination. In that case, it is best to stay home yourself, but your household members do not have to stay home. If you have a fever, but also have other symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as cold symptoms, coughing, or sudden loss of smell or taste, make an appointment to get tested. Except for the test, you must stay home, and your household members must also stay home until you get the results of the test. In case of doubt, you can consult the GGD infectious disease control department. If you develop a fever more than 48 hours after vaccination, you may have a coronavirus infection. In that case, get tested; you and your household members must stay home until you get the results of the test.

Death after vaccination

If someone dies after a vaccination, the death is reported to Lareb. An investigation then takes place to determine the cause and whether there is a direct link between the vaccination, any possible side-effects and the person’s death. A few deaths have been reported in the Netherlands that occurred after COVID-19 vaccination. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) monitors reports of side-effects and deaths from all countries. The EMA publishes a monthly report on these figures. 

Everyone in the Netherlands over the age of 18 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination. That includes elderly people and people in (extremely) vulnerable health. Vaccination of vulnerable elderly people started on 18 January. An estimated two thousand people aged 80 years and older die each week in the Netherlands on average. These deaths will also include people who have recently been vaccinated. 

Study on side-effects of COVID-19 vaccination

As of 1 February, the Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb has started actively monitoring side-effects after COVID-19 vaccination. In this study, vaccinated people will be sent 7 questionnaires over a period of 6 months. This will provide more information about which side-effects occur, how often they occur and how they develop. People can sign up for this study within 48 hours of their first COVID-19 vaccination or after making an appointment to get their first vaccination. For more information about the study (in Dutch), go to: www.mijncoronavaccin.nl.