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2nd vaccine dose causes 37% of health workers side effects, mostly a sore arm

Ichilov Hospital says most common symptom is light pain, with very few people taken to ER; Israeli allergists say vaccine poses ‘no heightened risks’ to those with allergies

An Israeli medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on December 20, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
An Israeli medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on December 20, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The most common side effect reported among people who received a second coronavirus vaccine shot was light pain at the injection site, Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said Thursday, as a group of Israeli allergists said few people have experienced significant allergic reactions after being immunized.

Two weeks after beginning to administer the second dose, Ichilov said that the number of people experiencing side effects increased from after the first injection, mirroring the findings of other studies on Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.

Out of a sample of 1,735 medical workers, the hospital said nearly 37 percent of those vaccinated felt side effects. Of those who did, the most common was light pain in the injection area, which was reported by 51%.

Another 32% said they felt localized pain that limited their movement, while 11% reported slight swelling, 5% localized redness and 1.5% paresthesia in the area of the injection.

The hospital said just under 97% of those who reported side effects didn’t contact a doctor and only 0.28% were taken to an emergency room.

It also said that over 95% didn’t experience any allergic reaction and of those who did only 1.23% went to the ER, adding that 86% of those included in the study didn’t take a sick day from work after receiving the vaccine.

Israeli medical workers cheer at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), on December 20, 2020 as the country’s vaccination drive begins (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The hospital’s release of the data on side effects after the second dose came as the Health Ministry on Thursday released a letter from the Israel Association of Allergy and Clinical Immunology saying that in roughly 20 million doses administered worldwide, few cases of significant side allergic reactions were reported, and the vaccine didn’t cause any deaths.

The association said there was “no heightened risk” of a reaction to the vaccine from those with allergies and that there was no need to obtain approval from an allergist.

“This creates unnecessary delays in administering the vaccine against the coronavirus,” it said in the letter.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, 2,365,041 people have received a first vaccine dose since Israel kicked off its national vaccination drive last month, and 694,669 the second.

Israel is leading all countries in vaccinations on a per capita basis, with 35 out of every 100 Israelis having receive a dose of vaccine, according to the Oxford-based Our World in Data.

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