What are the side effects of the new COVID booster?

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(NEXSTAR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved new COVID-19 vaccines for nearly all Americans as virus-related hospitalizations have been on the rise. 

While it has been recommended for everyone 6 months old and older, the side effects you experienced with the first COVID vaccines may have you on your heels about getting another dose. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much hope of that changing this time around. 

The main mix of ingredients remains the same in these new COVID vaccines, according to the Food and Drug Administration, but they have been updated to better target an omicron descendant, XBB.1.5. Though that mutant isn’t as prominent now, experts believe the vaccine will still prove effective against current mutations. 

The lack of major changes to the vaccine also means your body’s reaction to it likely won’t change. 

“The updated vaccines are made in the same manner as the original vaccines; however, they are tweaked to target currently circulating strains,” Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease physician at Cleveland Clinic, tells Nexstar. “Side effects will likely be similar to previous vaccine doses.”

Those side effects will vary from person to person, according to the CDC. Some people may experience very little discomfort while others may see their ability to do daily activities hampered for a few days after getting the vaccine. 

Ultimately, serious side effects are rare, and typically occur within six weeks of getting the shot. 

Common side effects of the vaccine listed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna include those you may have when you are sick, like tiredness, headache, muscle and joint pains, chills, fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, irritability, swollen lymph nodes, and generally feeling unwell. You may also notice pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site, as well as arm pain.  

More serious side effects can include severe allergic reactions, non-severe allergic reactions (like itching, hives, or swelling of the face), myocarditis or pericarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle and the lining outside the heart, respectively. 

If you or your child experiences a severe allergic reaction, you should seek emergency medical attention, experts warn. 

If you experience little to no side effects, don’t worry — you are still getting protection against the virus that causes COVID, the CDC says.

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