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Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19: What are the side effects?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may sometimes cause no side effects or mild-to-moderate side effects, which can be fairly common post-vaccination. This Snapshot feature further addresses concerns around allergic reactions and false claims regarding risks to pregnancy and fertility.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, named BNT162b2, and known as Comirnaty in the European Union, is a two-dose mRNA vaccine developed by two pharmaceutical industry companies: Pfizer in the United States and BioNTech in Germany.

In December 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source and World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source authorized the vaccine for emergency use in individuals aged 16 years and older, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorization by either organization. The vaccine is currently approved in 82 countries.

This mRNA vaccine works by providing the body with a set of instructions for creating the spike protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The presence of the protein antigen in the body triggers the immune system to produce antibodies, which prepares the body to fight against future infection by the virus itself.

However, the vaccine does not contain the virus and cannot cause infection. Additionally, the mRNA in the vaccine does not have the ability to alter DNA inside cells, as it is a transient molecule and does not enter the nucleus where the DNA is stored.

Although mRNA vaccines have been studied for many years, they have never before been approved for human use against disease. As a result, members of the public have raised concerns regarding potential unknown side effects.

Common side effects

According to the FDA’s vaccine fact sheetTrusted Source, typical side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine include:

Individuals have also reported side effects at the injection site, including arm pain, redness, and swelling.

These side effects are often signs that the vaccine is working, inducing a protective response from the immune system.

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