COVID-19 is prevented with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which comes in two doses. The potential side effects and safety guidelines associated with this mRNA vaccine are examined in this Snapshot feature.
COVID-19, also known as mRNA-1273, is a two-dose vaccine from Moderna. The vaccine is given in two doses, 28 days apart, and it prepares the immune system to combat infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In total, 45 countries have approved Moderna’s vaccine for use. This authorization has been given by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source for people aged 18 and up in the United States. The vaccine has also been approved for use in the European Union, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom, following a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency.
The vaccine has a 94.1 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, according to clinical trial results.
Characteristics of mRNA vaccine
The Moderna vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, is an mRNA vaccine. Although these two mRNA vaccines are the first to be approved for human use, scientists have been studying this technology for several years.
The spike protein found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 is generated by an mRNA vaccine, which provides the body with genetic information to manufacture viral or bacterial proteins. These proteins activate the immune system and trigger the formation of unique antibodies, preparing the body to combat infection if it comes into contact with the pathogen again.
The vaccine only contains enough knowledge to create a small portion of the virus. It is not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cannot cause COVID-19.
Once the spike protein has been generated, enzymes in our cells quickly degrade the mRNA molecules in the vaccine. The vaccine would not be able to alter the genetic information in the body.
Side effects that are commonly experienced
The following are the general side effects mentioned on the FDA’s fact sheet for this vaccine. We’ve also included the frequency percentages recorded in Moderna’s phase 3 clinical trial data:
- fatigue (70%)
- headache (64.7%)
- muscle pain (61.5%)
- joint pain (46.4%)
- chills (45.4%)
- nausea and vomiting (23%)
- fever (15.5%)
Side effects were more widely identified after the second dose and lasted 2–3 days, according to the clinical trials.
The following injection site reactions were also documented by recipients:
- pain (92%)
- swelling (14.7%)
- swelling of armpit lymph nodes, specifically (19.8%)
- redness (10%)
These side effects have also been identified by people who have received other approved COVID-19 vaccines.
However, people who have received the Moderna vaccine have shown more side effects than those who have received other mRNA vaccines. According to the study, 82 percent of Moderna vaccine recipients registered injection site reactions after the second dose, compared to 69 percent of Pfizer vaccine recipients.
There have also been records of a rash at the injection site that is red, itchy, swollen, or painful. The rash, also known as “COVID arm,” will occur several days after the vaccination.
The experiences of four people who developed COVID arm 7–10 days after obtaining the first dose of the Moderna vaccine are described in this case study. COVID arm is rare, not dangerous, and goes away on its own or through the use of steroids or antihistamines, according to the report’s writers.
Anaphylaxis and allergies
Allergic reactions, both extreme and mild, have been identified as potential vaccine side effects as a result of some vaccine ingredients.
A serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis is a rare side effect of vaccination. There have been 19 instances of anaphylaxis out of 7,581,429 Moderna vaccine doses administered, which is less than 3 cases per million.
The following are possible signs of a serious allergic reaction, according to the vaccine fact sheet:
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face and throat
- a rapid heartbeat
- a rash all over the body
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, like the Pfizer vaccine, contains a polyethylene glycol (PEG) component that has raised questions about its ability to cause an allergic reaction.
PEG, a common ingredient in laxatives, acts as a protective coating for the mRNA molecule as it reaches cells in the vaccine. It’s still unclear whether PEG is to blame for the confirmed allergic reactions, or whether the amount of PEG in the vaccine is sufficient to cause one.
It’s important to note that a PEG allergy is highly uncommon. Anyone with a history of an allergic reaction to PEG should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, and should talk to their doctor about an alternative.
Three cases of lip or facial swelling were identified by Moderna in clinical trial participants who had previously received a dermal filler cosmetic injection. The reactions were most likely caused by vaccination, according to the company.
The spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which the mRNA helps the body develop, interacts with regions around the dermal filler and causes an inflammatory response, according to one theory.
“People who have received dermal fillers may experience swelling at or near the site of filler injection (usually the face or lips) following administration of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the CDC.
People who have dermal fillers may get mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, according to the department, but they should contact a healthcare provider if they notice any swelling afterward.