ASHLAND Area residents who have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are reporting mild to moderate side effects, which is typical nationwide.
The most common side effects include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches, all of which tend to last a few hours, with a 24-hour onset.
Carter County Health Department Director Jeff Barker, who tested positive for the virus in December, said he has not taken the vaccination because of the diagnosis, but said he plans to; otherwise, only one other staff member in his office has not had the vaccine — and that person also had COVID-19 recently.
“Most folks are reporting a slight headache or fatigue,” Barker said. “Some report it was a little worse with the second vaccine.”
Chris Crum, director of the Greenup County Health Department, said some in his county have reported side effects, but he hasn’t heard of anything abnormal.
“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are fairly similar and the antidotal information coincides with what we’ve seen around the country: injection site pain, headache, fatigue and nausea, mild to moderate and lasting one to two days,” Crum said, adding side effects hit him 24 hours after he took the vaccine and lasted six or eight hours.
“Some say it lasted a little longer, but those who stay well-hydrated have less dramatic effects,” he said.
Side effects reported in the area are in line with what the Centers for Disease Control said to expect. To reduce pain in the arm, the CDC recommends applying a clean, cool, moist wash cloth on the area and to use or exercise the arm. If redness or soreness in the arm increases after 24 hours, the patient should call a health care provider.
Ashland-Boyd County Health Department had not returned calls to The Daily Independent as of press time.
Crum also said his department is considering changing to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine recently approved for use in the United States.
“Trying to get people in for their second shot has been difficult,” he said. “If they had a reaction to the first one, they decide they would just as soon not have the second shot.”
He said management of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is easier than the other, as it doesn't have to be kept at an unusually low temperature and there are only five doses per vial, so there are fewer doses to use up once a vial is opened.
Barker and Crum agreed vaccine recipients must avoid taking fever reducers before their shot in anticipation of side effects.
“Your body needs to react a certain way to help those antibodies work, and if you're preventing that artificially, it's not going to be as effective,” Crum said.
The best thing patients can do before getting a vaccine is to be well-hydrated, they said.
Crum said just “plain, old water” will do the trick; extra electrolytes aren't necessary.
“You're not losing electrolytes; you're just dehydrated,” he said.
Barker said the vaccine has brought hope.
“We’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and the numbers are greatly reducing,” he said.
Crum said for the best effect, the public must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, plus get vaccinated, despite the possibility of mild to moderate side effects.
“The fact that you might feel bad shouldn't keep you from getting vaccinated,” he said. “It's worth it to protect those that we love.”
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