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Learn About AEFI and The Side Effects of Covid-19 Vaccine

Teresa Simorangkir

25 June 2021

Have you had your dose of the Covid-19 vaccine? If so, congratulations and thank you for helping out our country to recover. Sadly, in the middle of people's enthusiasm for vaccination, there are negative words circulated about the side effects caused by the vaccine. In fact, all vaccines have the potential to cause side effects for its recipient. Now, try to ask your mom, father, or family who took you for immunization when you were a child. Ask them, what happened after you were immunized? They probably would say something like this:

“You cried all night long”

“You were restless because of the fever"

That’s a normal reaction experienced by children after immunization. Yet, years later, we remain healthy and free from the diseases that immunizations prevent. Now, the same thing goes for the Covid-19 vaccine. Side effects such as arm pain, fever, nausea, and so on are very common after receiving the vaccine. This is a sign that the vaccine is working and our bodies are building antibodies to fight viruses that may infect in the future. Side effects usually last for a few days and will go away on their own. However, in some cases, vaccines can cause unwanted reactions such as Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI). AEFIs are different from side effects, so special treatment is needed for those who experience them.

Recognizing Adverse Events After Immunization (AEFI)

AEFI is any unwanted medical event that occurs after immunization and does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine. AEFIs are classified into five categories based on their cause:

AEFI reactions to vaccine components

AEFIs that occur in this category are caused by one or more components contained in the vaccine. Vaccine components include antigens, adjuvants, antibiotics, and preservatives (including stabilizers).

AEFI reactions related to quality defects

AEFIs in this category are caused by quality defects in vaccine products, including the use of equipment for administering vaccines provided by the manufacturer.

AEFI reaction due to procedural error

The incorrect method of dissolving or administering the vaccines is the cause of this category of AEFI. For example, the needle that goes into the vial to take the vaccine is not sterile.

AEFI arising from anxiety about immunization

This AEFI occurs because of the anxiety felt by vaccine recipients during or following vaccination.

Coincidental events

AEFIs that are caused by something other than the vaccine product, immunization error, or immunization anxiety. For example, fever that has occurred before or at the time of immunization. This situation is referred to as a temporal association, i.e. two or more events that occur simultaneously. The first event may or may not be related to subsequent events.

Covid-19 AEFI that May Occur and Anticipation

After you’re vaccinated, the health officer will let you rest for observation. Observation is mandatory to review whether there were unwanted symptoms that occurred after vaccination. Keep in mind that everyone experiences reactions differently, so we need to know what kind of reactions may arise. Reactions to vaccines can be divided into two: mild reactions and severe reactions.

Mild Reaction

This type of reaction will resolve after a short period and requires no special treatment. Mild reactions are divided into two:

  1. Local reactions are reactions that occur in certain areas of the body such as pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Other severe local reactions include cellulitis. Anticipation: give cold compresses on the problematic area and take paracetamol.

  2. Systemic reactions, relating to the system or the whole body. Systemic reactions can be fever, muscle pain throughout the body (myalgia), joint pain (arthralgia), weakness, and headache. Anticipation: drink a lot of water, wear comfortable clothes, give cold compresses on problematic areas and take paracetamol.

Heavy Reaction

This type of AEFI is rare, but it needs to be monitored if the vaccine recipient experiences certain symptoms after being vaccinated. Severe reactions include seizures, thrombocytopenia, Hypotonic Hyporesponsive Episodes, and prolonged crying. If someone experiences AEFI, please contact the Health Service Center where they get the Covid-19 vaccine. The contact number is usually written on the vaccination card given after the vaccination process is over.

[Things You Need to Know After Getting a Covid-19 Vaccine]

Why Does Everyone Have a Different Reaction to Vaccines?

Indeed, not everyone experiences side effects after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. This is because everyone has an individualized immune system. This individualized immune system can be influenced by genetics, gender, diet, the environment, and previous conditions that have trained our immune system to respond to certain conditions. One thing to remember is that, although vaccines can strengthen our immune system, they don’t guarantee 100% protection against the virus. So, after vaccination, we’re still required to wear masks, wash our hands, and keep our distance so we don't get infected with the Coronavirus.

Vaccination is clearly effective in reducing morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases. The number of unwanted events due to vaccination is very low when compared to the risk of developing vaccine-preventable disease. By getting vaccinations, we can save on the cost of care and treatment of diseases, and even save lives. In essence, the positive impact of the vaccine is far greater than the negative ones. So, if you haven't been vaccinated, take the opportunity while it’s there so we can all get back to being healthy! The last, for a hassle-free vaccine registration, go use JAKI or head over to corona.jakarta.go.id/vaksinasi! You can download it on Play Store or App Store.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

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Author

Teresa Simorangkir

A writer and a lifelong learner.

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