Health & Fitness

Risks of COVID-19 disease ‘far outweigh’ vaccine side effects: experts


The serious outcomes that may arise from COVID-19 disease, like hospitalization and death, far exceed side effects from vaccines, say experts at Johns Hopkins University. 

The country has to overcome vaccine hesitancy in its route out of the pandemic, though some are concerned over side effects and long term outcomes after vaccination, Dr. Brian Garibaldi, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in an update Friday.

Sometimes vaccine hesitancy comes from a place of misunderstanding, or inaccurate information behind vaccines or the evaluation of their safety, said Dr. William Moss, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


“The way I often think about vaccine hesitancy is that people often overestimate the risk of the vaccine and underestimate the risk of the disease,” Moss said.

COVID-19 is a serious illness, and while many only develop mild symptoms, people of all ages have been hospitalized and died from the virus, Garibaldi said. Overall, underlying medical conditions and older age heighten the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 disease.

“The risks of you getting COVID, or transmitting it to someone that you love who then gets sick and dies, far outweighs the potential side effects that you might have from the vaccine in the short run,” Garibaldi added.

“We know that there are real risks to long term complications from covid,” he continued. “The number of people who are going to require months in the hospital or months in rehab, and even the young healthy people who months after their infection have not returned to their baseline healthy states, that risk is real and it’s very high right now when covid is this widespread in the community.”


The CDC says common side effects from coronavirus vaccines include pain and swelling at the injection site, not unlike other vaccines. Vaccinated individuals may experience fever, chills, tiredness and headache as well.

Severe allergic reactions to vaccines are “exceedingly rare,” the CDC recently told reporters in a call. In a new report issued Friday, the CDC reported 10 cases of anaphylaxis among over 4 million administered doses, or 2.5 cases per 1 million doses. There were no anaphylaxis-associated deaths. Nine of the cases involved patients with a history of allergies or allergic reactions.

In a prior report, the CDC documented 21 confirmed cases of severe allergic reactions after COVID-19 vaccinations, which had averaged out to a rate of 11.1 severe reactions per 1 million doses administered, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“The benefits of the vaccine to yourself individually but also to your loved ones and to your community far, far outweigh any potential side effects from the vaccine,” Garibaldi said.


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