Covid vaccine side effects: how do Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna reactions compare - and how long do they last?

The NHS explains that the Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness

The Pfizer Moderna and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are all currently being administered in the UK, with more than 39 million people having now received their first dose.

Although all three jabs may give some people side effects, not everybody will experience them, and the effects are mostly mild or moderate and go away within a few days of appearing.

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But how do the side effects between the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines compare?

The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are all currently being administered in the UK, with more than 39 million people having now received their first dose (Photo: Shutterstock)
The Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are all currently being administered in the UK, with more than 39 million people having now received their first dose (Photo: Shutterstock)

Here’s what you need to know.

How do the side effects compare between Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca?

The NHS explains that the Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) explains that, like all vaccines, the Covid vaccines can cause side effects. However, not everybody will experience side effects.

If side effects such as pain or fever are troublesome, then they can be treated by medicines such as paracetamol.

According to the MHRA, side effects from the Covid jab may occur with following frequencies depending on the vaccine:

Very common - may affect more than 1 in 10 people :

Pfizer

- pain at injection site

- tiredness

- headache

- muscle pain

- chills

- joint pain

- fever

AstraZeneca

- tenderness, pain, warmth, itching or bruising where the injection is given

- generally feeling unwell

- feeling tired (fatigue)

- chills or feeling feverish

- headache

- feeling sick (nausea)

- joint pain or muscle ache

Moderna

- swelling of the underarm glands on the same side as the injection site

- headache

- nausea

- vomiting

- muscle ache, joint aches, and stiffness

- pain or swelling at the injection site

- feeling very tired

- chills

- fever

Common - may affect up to 1 in 10 people:

Pfizer

- injection site swelling

- redness at injection site

- nausea

AstraZeneca

- swelling, redness or a lump at the injection site

- fever

- being sick (vomiting) or diarrhoea

- flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills

Moderna

- rash

- rash, redness, or hives at the injection site

Uncommon - may affect up to 1 in 100 people:

Pfizer

- enlarged lymph nodes

- feeling unwell

AstraZeneca

- feeling dizzy

- decreased appetite

- abdominal pain

- enlarged lymph nodes

- excessive sweating, itchy skin or rash

Moderna

- itchiness at the injection site

Rare side effects - may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people:

Pfizer

- temporary one sided facial drooping

Moderna

- temporary one sided facial drooping

- swelling of the face (swelling of the face may occur in patients who have had facial cosmetic injections)

What should I do if I get side effects from the Covid jab?

If your fever is high and lasts longer than three days, or you have other persistent symptoms, this might not be due to side effects of the vaccine and you should therefore seek appropriate medical advice according to your symptoms.

If you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you may have Covid-19. You should stay at home and get a test.

If you do get any side effects, then you can talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

You can also report side effects directly via the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site.