The Ministry of Health has released information on side effects recorded close to coronavirus vaccinations in Israel. So far, 3.1 million people in Israel have received the first dose of the vaccine, and 1.87 million have received both doses. The side effects that have appeared are more or less as expected from the clinical trials by Pfizer, maker of the vaccine that most Israelis who have been vaccinated have received. The side effects have mostly been light and transient, but there have also been some more severe cases.
6,575 people reported some kind of side effect, including local effects at the site of the vaccination, after receiving the first dose of vaccine. 3,592 people have reported side effects following the second dose. Side effects were more common among young people than old people, and slightly more common among women than among men.
One possible effect that caused concern in relation to the vaccine was an allergic reaction. 1.4 people in a million suffered anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, but not at the level of life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Another 2.9 in a million experienced respiratory difficulties. All were treated with no long-term injury. None of these effects was reported after the second vaccine dose. Other reported allergic reactions are recognized as light reactions, such as swelling in the respiratory tracts, runny nose, redness, an accelerated pulse rate, tingling sensations, and so on.
A further concern was over possible neurological effects. A total of 180 people out of all those vaccinated felt paresthesia (pins and needles) in various parts of the body after the first dose, and 69 after the second. 30 people suffered from partial or total facial nerve paralysis, but most of them have recovered. One person suffered facial nerve paralysis only after the second dose. It should be noted that facial nerve paralysis occurs among the population even without vaccination, and with similar frequency (15-30 cases per 100,000), but the phenomenon is being monitored because in both Pfizer and Moderna's trials there were more instances in the trial group than in the control group.
In addition, eleven people reported attacks of herpes (and another four after the second dose), eleven reported a metallic taste in the mouth (and another eight after the second dose), eleven reported convulsions (these people were not given the second dose), four reported a transient ischemic event (probably not caused by the vaccine, but there is no way of knowing), and two people reported having lost consciousness.
Fewer side effects of all kinds were reported after the second dose. One reason could be that people who experienced the same reaction for a second time did not report it again.
The main transient systemic effects were headaches, reported by 328.8 people in a million (it is likely that many more people experienced headaches but not with a severity that made them report them as a side effect), 93.2 in a million felt dizziness, 60 in a million suffered muscular aches, and 59 in a million reported a fever. Other less common effects were pains in the joints, nausea, stomachaches, tremors, sore throat, runny nose, and coughing. As mentioned, these are symptoms that appeared close in time to the vaccination, not necessarily because of the vaccination.
As far as local effects are concerned, 883 people in a million reported pain at the site of the vaccination (many more people probably experienced pain but not at a level that would justify reporting it). 129.3 in a million reported swelling, and 124.6 in a million reported restricted movement in the days following vaccination. 22.8 in a million reported a change in skin color at the vaccination site, 11.5 in a million reported swollen lymph nodes. Other effects with a lower incidence were subcutaneous nodules, subcutaneous inflammation, rash, itch, and abscesses. Some of these effects were the result of the needle not being inserted properly, and were not from the vaccine itself. At any rate, they disappeared within a few days.
After examining the data, the Ministry of Health has not seen fit to change its recommendations on which groups to vaccinate; the recommendation to become vaccinated applies to the vast majority of the population.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 2, 2021
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