COVID-19 vaccine doesn't cause long-term side effects

COVID-19 22/10/2021

Here at Magic Talk, we understand that many of you have concerns about the long term effects of the Pfizer vaccine. Much of it from what you read online, and it's no secret we encourage and embrace robust discussion and debate around any and ever issue under the sun.

With that being said, it's important to listen to the science on these issues. We wanted to clear up any confusion you might have about the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular the worries you might have about long term side effects.

If you're hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine because you're concerned about unknown long-term side effects, the bottom line is this: any side effects from the vaccine happen within days and weeks - not years. Phew!

We don't expect you to just take our word for it. This information has been reviewed by Dr David Murdoch, an infectious diseases expert at Otago University and University of Auckland associate professor and vaccinologist Dr Helen Petousis-Harris for Stuff's expert panel on Truth.

Some people might know that Pfizer's clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine are ongoing, which is true, and the follow-up research for this particular vaccine won't be finished until early 2023. 

We know that it can sometimes take months for new side effects to emerge but this isn't because adverse reactions or events take a long time to display after vaccination. If someone does have an adverse event, this would appear soon after a person has been vaccinated and not years later.

So what about the extremely rare reactions to COVID-19 vaccines, such as myocarditis?

Clinical trials typically involved thousands of people and some side effects are so uncommon that they can't be detected. In the case of myocarditis, this very rare reaction only emerged after the vaccine had been given to millions of people and it appeared soon after vaccination. It is not a long-term side effect.

Petousis-Harris told Stuff vaccine history shows there are “no effects that suddenly spring up years and years down the track".

So why are there no long-term side effects? There's a simple answer for this: the vaccine leaves your body within hours to days.

What you’re left with is the immune response and if you are going to experience an adverse event following vaccination, most will occur within the first week, and up to six to eight weeks later.

The CDC states serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are “extremely unlikely” following any vaccination, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

At the end of the day, this is a decision you and only you can make. We sympathise with those who feel as though that decision is being taken away from you. The reality is, there is plenty of debate and conversation to be had around the ethics of no jab no job policies. There is no clear answer when it comes to someone else telling you what to do with your own beliefs and what you are willing to or not willing to do.

But, the science is clear that long term effects are extremely unlikely. If you are holding out for that reason alone, you can feel confident that you will be okay. Talk to your doctor, take action for your own sake. It's not too late to change your mind if you feel like doing so.