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Side effects

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Temporary mild side effects (fever, headache etc.) might occur after vaccination against COVID-19. These are to be expected with all vaccines and show that the immune system is reacting to the vaccine. Compared to the symptoms of COVID-19, the side effects are usually milder.

Some more startling symptoms do exist (e.g. numbness in the face) but these are extremely rare, pass within a day or two, and are not permanent. This is also one of the reasons why it is requested that a person stay near doctors for 15 minutes after vaccination -- this way it is possible to make sure that there are no primary and most severe side effects. Should these occur, the doctors can help immediately. To date, more than 300,000 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the world and there have been no reports of widespread dangerous side effects anywhere.

Read more: https://www.ut.ee/et/teadus/teadlaste-vastused-koroonakusimustele (in Estonian).

Last updated: 08.04.2021 14:52

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The occurrence of one or several flu-like symptoms (tiredness, headache, muscle pain, fever etc.) after vaccination shows the body's immune response to the virus that is actually not in the body. That is the magic of vaccines -- they make it possible to go through the disease (and create immune memory) mostly very mildly without actually coming into contact with the virus.

Last updated: 08.04.2021 14:51

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This is a malicious rumour, as vaccines do not leave pathogens in the body.

The new types of vaccines (based on mRNA and viral vector) do not contain a pathogen, only the information in the form of DNA or mRNA that is necessary for producing an antigen on the surface of the virus. In the vaccine, the DNA has been packed inside some other virus (usually an adenovirus) but these are viruses that have been rendered incapable of reproducing. It is important to know that neither the mRNA nor the DNA that has been packed into the adenovirus vector integrate into our genome. Some viruses are capable to doing this but adenoviruses do not plug their DNA into the genome of our cells.

Last updated: 17.03.2021 17:07

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Side effects may occur after a vaccination. It is not correct to call this becoming ill; rather it is the reaction of the body to the vaccine. Reactions of the injection site, headache, fever, feeling unwell, muscle and joint pain, and other similar reactions show that the immune system has started to produce antibodies (this is the immune system's response to the vaccine component). Generally the side effects pass within a few days and can be mitigated with over-the-counter painkillers.

Last updated: 16.03.2021 16:49

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Vaccines are one of the most thoroughly researched medicines when it comes to both safety and effectiveness but, as is the case with all medicines, the COVID-19 vaccines might also have side effects. Not all people, however, experience the side effects. If the side effects occur, they might be disturbing and cause temporary inconvenience but they are mostly mild and self-healing.

The more common side effects occur as symptoms of the immune system activating, e.g. fever, joint pain, feeling unwell for 1-3 days after receiving the vaccine. More serious side effects are very rare. Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions are considered to be severe side effects that occur very rarely. The vaccine administrator is always prepared for that eventuality with first aid kits. An allergic or anaphylactic reaction generally occurs within a short period of time after vaccination. That is why it is necessary to remain under the observation of a health care worker for at least another 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine shot. All known side effects that can be connected to the vaccine are written down on the information sheet of the vaccine packaging.

It should be taken into account that, as a reaction of the immune system to the vaccine, and depending on the vaccine either after the first or the second dose, the COVID-19 vaccines might cause general symptoms and reaction at the injection site which show that the vaccine is working, but not everyone gets these reactions and that does not mean that the vaccine is not working on them.

If a person's health condition changes after the vaccination or any other new problems occur, he should contact his family doctor who will evaluate whether the reaction might be due to the vaccine, some other disease, or a new disease not related to the vaccine. The new problem might require treatment, regardless of the reasons why it appeared. The occurred reactions are treated the best way possible, whether they are connected to the vaccination or not.

If a medical worker thinks that the reaction is not connected to the vaccine but the patient thinks it is, the patient can notify the State Agency of Medicines of the possible side effect himself. The State Agency of Medicines evaluates the possible side effects described in the notification for seriousness and causal link, and checks whether this is a known or a previously unknown side effect.


The State Agency of Medicines publishes the information (in Estonian) about the notifications they have received about side effects once a week, on Mondays.

Last updated: 17.03.2021 17:08

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There is no basis for the stories related to fertility. To the contrary -- one of the conditions for being admitted to the clinical studies of the coronavirus vaccines was that the subject was not planning to get pregnant during the study, even though there have been quite a few pregnancies as well.

Read more from here: https://www.ut.ee/et/teadus/teadlaste-vastused-koroonakusimustele (in Estonian).

Last updated: 08.04.2021 14:53

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For information on contraindications to vaccinations you should consult your family doctor or another health care worker who will be conducting the vaccination. The indications and contraindications of a specific medicine can also be found in the summary of the vaccine's properties that has been published on the web page of the State Agency of Medicines. The summary of the properties of the Moderna vaccine: https://ec.europa.eu/health/documents/community-register/2021/20210106150575/anx_150575_en.pdf. The summary of the properties of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/product-information/comirnaty-epar-product-information_en.pdf.

Last updated: 27.01.2021 16:12

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The liability for vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed similarly to other medicines. The vaccinator is liable if the vaccinator has breached its obligations in providing a healthcare service, or, in this case, carrying out the vaccination. The holder of the marketing authorisation is liable in the case of a quality defect due to manufacturing, i.e. there has been a breach of the rules of good manufacturing practices (GMP) or the holder of the marketing authorisation has knowingly hidden information. The prerequisite for applying liability is causation between the damages incurred and the vaccine or the vaccination. It is important to establish causation because all health symptoms that present themselves after vaccination might not have to do with the vaccination but might just be concurrent and coincidental.

In Estonia, the notifications about the side effects are collected and evaluated by the State Agency of Medicines. The symptoms that have occurred are treated the best way possible regardless of whether or not they are connected to the vaccine or vaccination. The patient insurance system through which it would be possible to demand compensation for avoidable damages that occurred as a result of the provision of a healthcare service is still being developed in Estonia. The state also has no plans to create a separate system for compensating damages due to vaccines or vaccination. Every person has the right to turn to the courts to protect their interests or demand compensation for damages incurred. Currently it is also possible to turn to the expert committee on the quality of healthcare services for an expert opinion on whether good clinical practices or the relevant instructions were followed in the course of providing the healthcare service that caused the damages.

Last updated: 16.03.2021 16:36

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More information about the coronavirus and restrictions related to it is available calling 1247 (from abroad +372 600 1247).