Covid-19: Booster shots serious side effects rare, experts assure safety

04 Jan 2024 08:30am
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF
Photo for illustrative purposes only - 123RF

SHAH ALAM - While booster shots, like any medical intervention, may have side effects, serious adverse reactions are exceedingly rare.

Common side effects, according to Taylor’s University School of Medicine Head and Public Health Specialist Prof Dr Rusli Nordin, are generally mild and temporary, such as soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headaches and mild flu-like symptoms.

"It's crucial to weigh the potential risks against the benefits of vaccination, which include reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19.

"Individual responses to vaccines can vary, and some people may experience stronger reactions than others," Dr Rusli told Sinar Daily.

However, he said it is essential to communicate openly with healthcare professionals about any concerns or past experiences with vaccines.

Dr Rusli stated that misinformation can contribute to vaccine hesitancy, so it is crucial to rely on reputable sources for information.

"In general, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccination, including boosters, in preventing severe illness and protecting public health are well-established.

"Public health decisions are based on a balance of risks and benefits, as well as health authorities continually monitor and adjust recommendations based on new evidence and emerging variants," he said.

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Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya (UM) Biological Sciences Institute senior lecturer Muhamad Afiq Aziz said that when an actual infection occurs, the human body produces a fever to boost the ability of human immune cells to combat the invading pathogen.

"Similarly, boosters assist in teaching our immune system to identify and prepare for new variants that we may meet in the future.

"Some people will experience fever as part of a normal reaction to the booster," Afiq said.

Hence, the fever that one gets after receiving a shot is a sign that the immune system is actively responding to the booster and is working to strengthen human defences against potential threats.

It is important to note that not everyone will experience a fever or bad side effects after receiving a booster, as individual reactions can vary.

Meanwhile, KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital Consultant Paediatrician Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin said that the history of vaccines dates back to the Ottoman Empire, with the first smallpox vaccine conceptualised by a Turkish medical expert in 1796.

"Smallpox claimed around 300 million lives by 1900, but through global vaccination efforts, it was eradicated by 1980.

"Vaccines aren't as poisonous as claimed by anti-vaccine groups, which rely on emotions, conspiracy theories, and false news rather than scientific facts," said Dr Musa.

Without Covid-19 vaccines, the world might have remained trapped in a global pandemic, which has since caused close to seven million deaths worldwide, with 37,218 in Malaysia.

The high Covid-19 vaccination coverage in Malaysia had helped keep our death rates lower than in countries with lower vaccination rates, such as the UK and the US.

"Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) are exaggerated by anti-vaccine groups, often with clear conflicts of interest.

"They instill fear about Covid-19 and vaccines to promote their own remedies like megavitamins, brain tonics, MLM (multilevel marketing) supplements and so on.

"Malaysia's Health Ministry has the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) investigating every AEFI case,” Dr Musa added.