COVID Vaccines are Reportedly Working, but Some are Concerned About Side Effects

January 19, 2021
Briana Contreras

Nearly 80% of Americans believe the COVID-19 vaccines will help combat the pandemic, but 71% are concerned about vaccine side effects. Experts say some side effects are not only normal, but are working.

The majority of the U.S. population is concerned about COVID-19 vaccine side effects and about half are concerned about there being enough supply, according to a new survey recently released by Welltok, a consumer activation company.

Over 60% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed also express the desire for a second dose reminder to ensure they complete the recommended regimen.

Although there are concerns on the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine side effects, most, or 80%, of Americans do feel the vaccines will turn things around. Either way, the mixed feelings prove the world needs to be educated and filled in on all confirmed vaccine benefits and side effects.

“Early COVID-19 vaccination trends illustrate the need for greater education around the potential public health benefit. To achieve herd immunity will require getting the ‘moveable middle’ to take action,” said April Gill, chief strategy officer for Welltok. “We are leveraging healthcare and non-healthcare data to predict who may be on the fence about getting the vaccine – and why – to develop and deliver fact-based, personalized messages to overcome vaccine hesitancy.”

To get better idea of the general population’s perceptions about the COVID-19 vaccines, Welltok partnered with research firm Ipsos to conduct the nationwide survey.

Key findings from the new This Is Your Shot: Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Right report include:

  • Immunization intent: More Americans believe that some, most or all of their circle of friends and family will get the vaccine (80%) than say they will get vaccinated themselves (69%). Older Americans, ages 55+, indicated a higher intent to get vaccinated than adults ages 18-34 (82% vs 58%, respectively).
  • Vaccine hesitancy: About half of Americans (52%) are concerned there will not be enough supply and 71% are concerned about side effects. Nearly 60% of people also indicate preference for a specific brand of COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially true among younger Americans, high-earners, people with children in the household and full- and part-time employed adults.
  • Vaccine compliance: 4 out of 5 people (82%) who were immunized for influenza this year intend to get the COVID-19 vaccines. Conversely, people who did not get the flu vaccine this year are less likely to get the COVID-19 vaccines (51%). Additionally, 2 out of every 3 adults said they want to receive reminders to get second or missed doses.
  • A new normal: Most Americans believe the COVID-19 vaccines will help combat the pandemic, but opinions are split on when – or even if – life will get back to “normal” even after vaccines are widely available. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans do not expect life to ever go back to normal. Women, lower-income earners, people without a college degree and those who say they will not get the vaccine are more likely to share this sentiment. 

Chief Health Officer at Starkey Hearing in Minneapolis and Medical Expert, Archelle Georgiou, however, has some light to shed on vaccine side effects. Georgiou recently shared with local Minneapolis news that many of these side effects are normal and the vaccine is doing what it should be.

According to a Pfizer FDA document, about 84% of the patients in the drug's clinical trials experienced pain or swelling where the shot went in. About 62% experienced fatigue, 55% got headaches and about 38% experienced muscle pains. Smaller percentages of patients experienced chills, joint pain or fever, the news report said.

Georgiou said knowing the side effects in advance can eliminate some of the concern and is a reminder that the body is responding to the vaccines and it's generating antibodies to the new agent.

She added the symptoms can be more extreme after the second dose and if they last or get worse after a day or two, a doctor should be consulted.