If all goes well this week, the FDA will give that vaccine emergency approval in the U.S. and next week, 327 thousand doses will be delivered to California. 

As thousands prepare to be vaccinated, and thousands more participate in other COVID vaccine trials, residents may be wondering – what do we know about potential side-effects of the vaccine? 

Pfizer found 44,000 volunteers to participate in its COVID-19 vaccine trial and Carson Clark is one of them.

“My mom has diabetes. I have some more family members that have lung issues, higher risk of having complications from COVID so I decided I’m in good health, I can do this,” he said.

He got his first shot in early September and his second vaccination three weeks later.

“They first tested me for COVID just to make sure I didn’t already have it,” Clark said.

Testing negative for the virus, he became a human guinea pig.

“The day I got the shots my arm got pretty sore then the next day I got some sort of general fatigue,” Clark said.

He said he wasn’t alarmed by it because he was given this list of side effects to expect which include tiredness, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches and sweating.

“It only lasted that one day,” he said. “It was gone the next day after that.”

UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said 25-50% of 75,000 patients involved in the Pfizer and Moderna trials experienced some side effects. Fifteen percent of them were more serious and needed more than a day to recover.

“It’s your body’s immune system trying to get activated because it’s seeing this new thing and the way that it gets activated is the way you’re feeling which is inflammation,” Chin-Hong said. “The virus is not in the vaccine, this vaccine is completely infection-free.”

Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine trial was put on pause when a patient experienced spinal cord inflammation. The case has been reviewed and was allowed to continue, but very little is known about its side effects.

John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus and infectious disease specialist says keeping track of the various COVID vaccination trials is exciting and when it comes to side effects, they usually occur within six weeks of being vaccinated.

“So I’m going to be pretty confident that if we haven’t seen anything in six weeks the chances of anything significant happening are miniscule,” Swartzberg said.

Even though Clark suffered only a sore arm and a headache, he wanted to know if he got the actual vaccine or a placebo.

“I got the antibody test and it came back that I do have COVID anti bodies now which leads me to believe I got the real thing,” he said. “I think all of us are ready for this pandemic to be behind us and I don’t think that’s going to happen without a vaccine.”

He says he’s proud to be a part of the process.  


By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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