The COVID Vaccine Could Temporarily Paralyze This Body Part, FDA Warns
Both the Pfizer vaccine and the soon-to-be-approved Moderna vaccine are included in the advisory.
Less than a week after Pfizer's highly effective vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more good news came when the agency stated that it plans to approve another highly effective vaccine from pharmaceutical company Moderna as soon as the end of the week. But the FDA also met these announcements with a warning for doctors that the COVID vaccine from both companies could potentially cause a strange side effect: Bell's palsy, which is temporary facial paralysis. Read on to see what the agency says about this issue, and for more on your inoculation, check out If You Cut the Line for the COVID Vaccine, It Could Have This Scary Effect.
The heads up for medical professionals to keep an eye out for the condition came after a 54-page staff report released on Dec. 15 stated that four cases of Bell's palsy—a condition that causes half of your face to droop temporarily—were observed in Moderna's 30,000-person clinical trial, including one case of a patient who developed the condition after taking a placebo, CNBC reports. Pfizer's 43,000-person clinical trial also reported four cases of Bell's palsy, all in participants who had taken the vaccine and not the placebo.
However, while the agency felt it was important to make medical professionals aware of the potential side effect, they reiterated that there was insufficient data to tie the issue to the doses patients received. Agency staff wrote that any connection had yet to be established "because the number of cases was small and not more frequent than expected in the general population."
"There were no other notable patterns or numerical imbalances between treatment groups for specific categories of adverse events, including other neurologic, neuro-inflammatory, and thrombotic events, that would suggest a causal relationship to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine," they clarified in the report.
The news comes days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they would monitor recipients of Pfizer's vaccine but found "no known or expected causal relationship between the vaccine and Bell's palsy" on Dec. 11. "Post authorization safety and effectiveness studies will be critical as well. Specifically, surveillance for Bell's palsy could help determine any possible causal relationship," Sara Oliver, MD, an officer at the CDC, said during the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) panel that made the announcement.
The CDC and other experts have also warned of some other common, non-dangerous side effects of the COVID vaccine. Read on to see what they are, and for more on who may wind up getting you sick, check out This Is the Person Who Is Most Likely to Give You COVID, Study Finds.
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Ian Haydon, a participant in Moderna's first human clinical COVID vaccine trial in May, received the highest dose and reported a headache after the second shot. According to Science Magazine, this was a side effect for both Moderna's and Pfizer's vaccine trials, with 4.5 percent of Moderna participants experiencing headaches and 2 percent of Pfizer participants. And for more on which genetic traits could put you in more danger, check out If You Have This Blood Type, You're at a High Risk of Severe COVID.
According to Science Magazine, Haydon also reported experiencing severe nausea as a result of the vaccine, which caused him to vomit and faint. Fortunately, Haydon said it was a "small price to pay" for protection from the potentially deadly virus. Moderna has also since reduced the dosage after reviewing such cases. And for more up-to-date information on COVID, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Fatigue was the most common side effect in both Moderna and Pfizer's trials, according to Science Magazine. For Moderna, the side effect was reported by 9.7 percent of Moderna's participants and 3.8 percent of Pfizer participants. And for more on what not to do post-jab, check out You Shouldn't Do This Right After Getting a COVID Vaccine, Expert Warns.
Fever and chills
While it may be uncomfortable, it appears that a fever may not be your only temperature issue when it comes to vaccine side effects. Luke Hutchison, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology–educated computational biologist and participant in the Moderna COVID trial over the summer, said he experienced shaking with "cold and hot rushes."
The CDC says "in most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal." To combat this, you should "drink plenty of fluids" and "dress lightly." And for more on who shouldn't get the shot, check out These Are the Only People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine.