How Your Age Can Affect Your COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

As the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out, one of the earliest groups to gain access to the vaccine were older adults, who, according to The New York Times, are now the most vaccinated group in the country. It's understandable that this vulnerable group would be a priority. According to the CDC, adults over the age of 85 are at the most risk of severe symptoms of COVID-19, the kind that could land them on a ventilator — or worse.

Yet, does this mean that this age group is also the most prone to the COVID-19 vaccine's side effects?

Since older adults were the first to be vaccinated, some of the earliest data available on COVID-19 vaccine side effects have been extracted from this age group. According to The Sun-Sentinel, older adults have reported side effects after taking the COVID-19 vaccine that have ranged from mild reactions, such as headaches and chills, to more severe reactions, such as pains in the chest — and even strokes. It should be noted, however, that many of the older adults who reported the most severe reactions had a combination of underlying conditions. "We still don't know all the effects and some may be based on medical conditions, age and fragility," said Martha Sharan, a CDC spokeswoman. "That's why we are encouraging people to report. We are watching closely."

Do other age groups experience COVID-19 vaccine side effects?

Clinical trials reveal that younger adults are an age group that also show a higher experience of side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. One theory behind this is that younger people have been less exposed to pain and illness, so they may report experiencing more intense chills, fever, and body aches compared to an older person. "It could be that younger people think more (about possible side effects) and tune in more to them. It could be that pain thresholds change with age," medical expert Thomas Campbell, MD told UC Health. According to UPMC, younger people have been reporting side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine, such as headache, muscle pain, and nausea, at an even greater rate than adults over 60. This held true across the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Whatever your age, possible mild side effects tend to occur within the first three days of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and last roughly two days. However, if you experience more serious side effects, or an allergic reaction to a COVID 19 vaccine, you should seek medical help right away (via Mayo Clinic).