Fact-Check: The side-effects of the Covid-19 vaccine

Krystal Gibbens,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 Sep 2021, 6:25PM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Fact-Check: The side-effects of the Covid-19 vaccine

Krystal Gibbens,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 Sep 2021, 6:25PM

Last night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to social media to discuss the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine.  

Research, Ardern said, indicated one of the most common worries of those who have chosen not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 yet was the side effects. “So let’s talk about that!” She encouraged her followers.  

In her post she said “like all medicines, you might experience some mild side effects 1—2 days after getting your vaccination. That is totally normal, and also a sign that your body is learning to fight the virus.”   

After her first dose Ardern said she had a sore arm and after the second she felt a bit weary.  

What’s in the Covid vaccine  

The Pfizer vaccine is an mRNA vaccine. It contains the genetic code for the spike protein part of the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19).  

The vaccine cannot give you Covid-19 as it does not contain any of the virus.  

Once vaccinated, your body will read the genetic code and makes copies of the spike protein. Your immune system will then detect these spike proteins and learn how to recognise and fight against the virus.  

The vaccine is made up of the mRNA spike protein, messenger RNA encoding SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, lipid nanoparticle (a stabilised fat-based bubble that protects and carries the mRNA into the cells), salt buffers that maintain the pH of the vaccine and sucrose which protects the vaccine while in storage.  

Common side effects  

The Ministry of Health lists the following common side effects.   

  • pain or swelling at the injection site  
  • feeling tired or fatigued  
  • headache  
  • muscle aches  
  • chills  
  • joint pain  
  • fever  
  • redness at the injection site  
  • nausea  

Uncommon & rare side effects  

Uncommon side effects listed by the Ministry of Health are feeling unwell, pain in limb, insomnia or itching at injection site.  

Rare reported side effects listed are temporary one-sided facial drooping and temporary inflammation of the heart wall (myocarditis).  

If you experience side effects not listed  

You can ring your GP or Healthline to seek advice, or if you are concerned about your safety, call 111.  

You can also submit a report of the side-effects you experience to The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) to contribute to the safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines in New Zealand. 

Deaths from the Covid-19 vaccine 

Awaiting the Coroner’s determination, 1 death has likely been attributed to the Covid-19 vaccine in New Zealand, due to myocarditis.   

A total of 54 deaths in New Zealand have currently been submitted to CARM. 18 of these are under investigation and all others were considered unlikely to be related to the COVID-19 vaccine or could not be assessed due to insufficient information.