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Are adolescents and children expected to experience side effects from the vaccine similar to those seen in adults?

This article was published on
May 11, 2021

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SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

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What our experts say

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Expert Comments: 

C. Buddy Creech, MD, MPH

At this point, from the data that have been made available, it looks like adolescents experience the same types of side effects as adults – arm pain, achiness, fatigue, and headaches. These are short lived, and usually occur in the 1-2 days after vaccination. As we move into younger and younger children, we’ll be watching this very carefully so that we can provide parents with guidance on what to expect after vaccination.

Richard Malley, MD

This is a difficult question, given the relatively low numbers of adolescents and children who have received the vaccine so far in clinical trials. Authorization of the Pfizer vaccine by US FDA in 12–15-year-olds is a very positive sign that the side effect profile of the vaccine in this age group is reassuring. The FDA will of course want to see the data for young children when available as well. Side effects of various vaccines in children differ from those of older patients, which is one of the reasons why adolescent and pediatric trials are so important.

Robert A. Bednarczyk, PhD

The safety data from the adolescent clinical trials looks similar to that for adults. With no major differences identified, and the robust vaccine safety monitoring systems we have in place for when vaccines are rolled out, I am confident in the safety profile of this vaccine for adolescents, and if an issue should arise, we are well-positioned to quickly identify and address this.

Paul Spearman, MD

Yes, the side effects are very similar to those in adults. The most common side effects were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, fever, and joint pain. Most of these were somewhat worse following the second dose. These side effects occur only for a limited time after vaccination, usually gone within 1-3 days.

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