CHICAGO - As millions of people get their COVID vaccines, experts are warning you not to skip your second dose.
Health officials fear that worries of potential side effects are fueling a new form of vaccine hesitancy in which people decide to forgo the second recommended dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Doctor Sharon Welbel from Cook County Health says there's no difference between the first and second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but more people are having stronger symptoms after the second, as the body revs up the immune response.
"The most common is going to be arm soreness, like we'd get with any vaccine. People can get a headache. They can get muscle aches. They can get a fever," Dr. Welbel said.
She says the side effects are a sign that the body is responding and giving us more protection from COVID-19. She also says we need all the protection we can get with new, more contagious variants in circulation.
"They looked at one injection, of course, but they found that by giving two injections people had a higher antibody response than they did with just the first," Dr. Welbel said.
To potentially lessen the side effects, Doctor Welbel says to get a good night's sleep before the shot and drink plenty of water. Then, after the vaccine, you can ice your injection site and move your arm around. She says you can take pain relievers if necessary.
Doctor Welbel's bottom line is this: the vaccine side effects can last 24 to 36 hours, but she says COVID can leave you with longterm symptoms and it continues to kill every day.