Taking a closer look at COVID-19 vaccine side effects

It’s not unusual to be concerned about side effects of a vaccine, especially a new one. But don’t forget: Side effects after COVID-19 vaccination “are normal signs that your body is building protection,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   We talked with some Oregon medical professionals about their vaccination experiences.

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln

“I got my [second] shot at about 2 p.m., and at about 2 a.m. that night, 12 hours later, I woke up with chills and I knew I had a fever,” said Dr. Jennifer Lincoln of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center (pictured, right). “When I felt these symptoms, I got excited because I knew it was my immune system doing what it’s supposed to do.” 

For Cindy Shields, a respiratory therapist at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine caused chills, headache and fatigue for a couple of days. 

“I was expecting some side effects to occur,” Shields said. “I think I would have been concerned as to whether my body was building immunity if I had not had any.” 

Dr. Jennifer Huang, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at OHSU, said her second dose of COVID-19 vaccine also caused a pronounced reaction. 

“I just had about 24 hours of fevers and chills and a little bit of nausea,” said Dr. Huang, “The way I thought of it, it just meant that the first vaccine had been effective.” 

The reactions, while uncomfortable, proved to be temporary.  All three recovered within 36 hours. 

“There is no way to describe the sense of relief of being able to take control as health care providers,” said Dr. Lincoln.  

“I consider the discomfort I experienced a minor inconvenience as compared to the devastation that I have seen from many who contract the disease,” Shields said. 

“Even with the side effects, I’d do it again,” Dr. Huang said. “I had a great sense of relief once I got the second shot.” 

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and when you’ll be eligible, visit our COVID-19 Vaccine webpage.

This article first appeared in the Feb. 18, 2021 issue of Oregon Coronavirus Update.