Expect These Side Effects From The New Omicron Booster

Expect These Side Effects From The New Omicron Booster

Thinking of getting the new Omicron COVID-19 booster shot? Health experts say that you should expect similar side effects that resulted from previous COVID-19 shots. Some common side effects include headache, muscle pain, fatigue, skin redness, and pain at the injection site. The new booster may be more effective at preventing serious illness because it addresses the current circulating variants more precisely than previous shots. 

The good news is that possible side effects from the new vaccines won’t likely differ from those associated with previous boosters and vaccines. In August 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency-use authorization to a pair of new booster shots. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech developed the latest boosters, both of which aim to target the original COVID-19 strain and the newest Omicron (BA.4 and BA.5). 

Experts suggest that the immune system should be able to easily seek out the more specific spike protein in the new Omicron booster. This should help the immune system fight off serious infection from the current variants in circulation. Since the immune system should be able recognize the spike proteins in the booster, health workers hope that it may recognize new variants more easily.

New Side Effects Are Not Surprising

Clinical trials testing the BA.4 and BA.5-specific booster shots are ongoing. This is a fairly common process for vaccines that require a strain update, similar to the annual flu shot. Instead, experts rely on data from the first round of booster shots and from a similar bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, the one that targeted BA.1. The new Omicron variants only slightly differ from the original BA.1 subvariant

When experts looked at the side effects of boosters in current trials, there were no surprises. The current list of side effects is nearly identical to all of the side effects from the regular booster. Additionally, the side effects from the new booster are contingent with those of the initial vaccine. This is most likely because the vaccine ingredients are essentially the same. The only change is which proteins on the surface of the protein it encodes for. This is to help optimize immune response against current and future variants. 

Pfizer Booster Side Effects

Pain at the injection site seems to be the most common complaint from people who received Pfizer’s updated booster. About 60% of trial participants reported pain at the injection site, in addition to fatigue, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, fever, and nausea. Researchers observed all of those symptoms with Pfizer’s original COVID-19 booster shot as well. In the current trials for Pfizer’s bivalent booster, no adverse effects were reported. Experts will continue to keep an eye on the rare risk of myocarditis in both Pfizer and Moderna booster recipients. Myocarditis is a condition that involves inflammation of the heart muscle, and it has occurred mostly in teens and younger adults. 

Moderna Booster Side Effects

Similar to Pfizer booster recipients, those who received the Moderna bivalent Omicron booster reported pain at the injection site. In the trials, though, about 80% reported injection site pain, which is higher than the Pfizer trial participants. Fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, nausea, chills, and fever were also common symptoms. The five most common side effects that people reported after a dose of Moderna’s original COVID-19 booster were injection site pain, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and joint pain. 

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these two boosters if you choose to get them. Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) booster hasn’t been retooled to target Omicron. Additionally, health experts don’t advise the J&J vaccine because of the rare but serious complication involving a blood clotting disorder. Not everyone experiences side effects after a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, though. For the people who do, the side effects are typically mild and go away after a day or two. If the symptoms linger, call your doctor to inquire about how to alleviate them.



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