18+ and just got jabbed? Why you may be more likely to experience vaccine side effects

25 August 2021 - 08:28
By sanet oberholzer AND Sanet Oberholzer
Experts explain why younger people may be more likely to experience Covid-19 vaccine side effects. File photo.
Image: BreadCrumbs Experts explain why younger people may be more likely to experience Covid-19 vaccine side effects. File photo.

Last week Covid-19 vaccinations opened to those aged 18 to 35. While many young people have registered and have received their first dose of the vaccine, others may be next in line and curious about what to expect, particularly in terms of side effects.

The way one person may experience vaccine side effects can be vastly different to another. While one person may experience several side effects of varying intensity another may experience nothing at all.

According to reports, it appears younger people are more likely to experience side effects after receiving a vaccine than older people.

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As reported by Business Insider earlier this year, younger adults in the US more commonly reported side effects including headaches, fatigue and pain at the site of injection than older adults.

Prof Hannelie Meyer, head of the SA Vaccination and Immunisation Centre at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, agreed this is likely.

“It does seem to be the case that older people experience no or very mild side effects  compared to young people.

“This can be explained by younger peoples’ immune systems being more responsive.It is also known the immune system gradually deteriorates with age,” Meyer said.

She said older people, and people with comorbidities who have a weaker immune system, mount a weaker immune response when vaccinated.

“In simple terms, your own immune system determines the severity and type of side effects you will experience. The more responsive your immune system, the greater the possibility of experiencing more side effects and/or experiencing them more intensely.” 

Meyer said despite a person’s reaction to a Covid-19 vaccine, the immune responses that develop after receiving the vaccine have been shown to be protective in both older and younger people.

However, Meyer said most side effects from the Covid-19 vaccines are mild and subside after two or three days, even in younger people.

Speaking to TimesLIVE for a previous article, Dr Anastacia Tomson said side effects seldom last longer than a day or two and may include fever, chills, lightheadedness, muscle aches and pains, headaches and nausea.

“If you experience a dry cough, loss of smell or taste, a sore throat or symptoms that don’t subside after a day or two, these might not be vaccine-related and medical attention, which may include a Covid-19 test, should be sought,” Tomson said.  

Meyer said the enormous benefits of Covid-19 vaccination to prevent severe disease and death still outweigh the risks of experiencing side effects.