Why younger people are experiencing greater side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 9:46 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Almost 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Alabama. Since the state expanded eligibility to everyone age 16 and older, younger people have reported feeling more side effects, varying in degree, from the shot.

According to Doctor Ali Hassoun, Infectious Disease Specialist at Huntsville Hospital, this trend was expected. Generally, the younger a person is, the stronger immune response the person will have.

“It’s more related to how robust their immune systems are, where they can mount more immune responses compared to the older population,” Hassoun said.

Overall, Hassoun said about 50 to 60 percent of younger people experience more severe effects than older folks. Those side effects may include painful swelling, fever, muscle aches or fatigue. However, the symptoms usually subside within 48 to 72 hours and do not have lasting effects.

Hassoun also explained why some people are contracting COVID-19 after getting the vaccine. In those cases, he says the person simply did not follow the guidelines. Remember, you need two shots of Pfizer or two shots of Moderna. Also, you need to wait at least two weeks after the second shot to reach immunity.

“So, there is a gap in there and a chance of getting infected. What we have seen, mainly in those who get the first shot, is they think they are okay and then they get exposed and get infected,” Hassoun said.

Hassoun encourages community members to follow the guidelines. He is optimistic that herd immunity can be reached, as long as enough people are vaccinated in a timely manner.

“If everybody gets vaccinated we are going to get to herd immunity from immunization and if we get to that, I think we’ll be good to go in the way of opening businesses, schools, trying to get back as much as possible to normal,” Hassoun said. “It might not be completely normal but it will be similar to what we had before COVID. But we need to get to that herd immunity as soon as possible.”

Check out the vaccine tab on this website, waff.com. You’ll find a list of pharmacies and other vaccine site locations across the Tennessee Valley.

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