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Get the facts on COVID-19 vaccine side effects

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Sept. 6, 2021—Chatter about COVID-19 vaccines is all over the news and social media. If you are still weighing the risks and benefits of getting your shots, it's important to put a few common myths to rest.

Myth: Safe vaccines don't have side effects.

Fact: The fact is, all vaccines have some side effects. Usually these are mild, like some soreness or fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are normal signs that your body is building a defense against the virus. For most people, they go away in just a few days. And some people have no side effects at all.

Myth: Serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are common.

Fact: They're rare. It's natural to be concerned when you hear about these. But COVID-19 vaccines have had the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Millions of people have received a vaccine safely. While a small number of people have experienced serious side effects, the chances of that happening are low.

Myth: Reports of "adverse events" mean the vaccines are dangerous.

Fact: An adverse event is any problem that happens after someone gets a vaccine. It doesn't mean that the problem was caused by the vaccine. CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies use several systems to track vaccine safety, including the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Anyone can report health problems to VAERS—whether or not they are a healthcare provider. That lets CDC, FDA and other agencies know to investigate possible problems. But a report does not mean that the problem is connected to the vaccines. VAERS reports are the beginning of an investigation, not the end.

Myth: The risks from the vaccines are worse than the risks from COVID-19.

Fact: For most people, the danger of COVID-19 is worse than the danger of vaccine side effects. People of all ages can develop severe illness, be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. And some people experience long-term problems after a COVID-19 infection. Even if you still get COVID-19, being fully vaccinated greatly reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalization or death.

Still not sure about the shots? Talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the risks and benefits for you. Then you can make the right choice for your health.

Want to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines? Visit the Coronavirus health topic center.

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