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Does the vaccine have side effects?

Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. This is because vaccines work by triggering a response in your immune system. Most of these are mild and only last a few days, and not everyone gets them.

Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you should still have the second dose.

Very common side effects in the first day or two include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection for several days after the vaccine
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • general aches, chills, or flu like symptoms

A mild fever may occur for two to three days after vaccination but a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. You can take paracetamol (follow the advice on dose and intervals in the packaging) and rest to help you feel better. Do not take more than the recommended dose.

An uncommon side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck on the same side as you had your vaccination. This can last for about 10 days, but if it lasts longer speak to your doctor.

Common side effects following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or you are concerned, look at: online, and if necessary call NHS 111 Wales on 111 or your GP surgery. If 111 is not available in your area, call 0845 46 47. Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobiles. Calls to 0845 46 47 cost 2p per minute plus your telephone provider’s usual access charge.

If you experience any of the following from around 4 days to four weeks after vaccination, you should seek medical advice urgently.

  • A new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse
  • An unusual headache which seems to get worse when lying down or bending over or may be accompanied by:
    • Blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
    • Difficulty with your speech
    • Weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • New, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain

If you have had any of the above symptoms after your first vaccination, you should speak to your doctor or specialist before having the second dose.

If you do seek advice from a doctor or nurse, make sure you tell them about your vaccination (show them your vaccination card if possible) so that they can assess you properly.

You can also report any side effects through the Yellow Card scheme (see ‘More information’).