Covid vaccine: First volunteers describe side effects of Pfizer jab – what to expect

3 min


The coronavirus pandemic may be coming to an end thanks to a vaccine developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech. The ‘milestone’ vaccine was shown to be 90 percent effective in preventing people from getting the virus. If the vaccine passes all the safety checks, it will have profound implications for managing the virus.




Critical questions still remain, not least around the long-term efficacy of the vaccine, but new information about the vaccine has come to light.

The first volunteers to get the promising new vaccine have described a range of side effects.

Some of the 43,500 people to get the COVID-19 jab have drawn similarities to the flu vaccine, with side effects that include headaches and sore muscles.

Trial volunteer Glenn Deshields, 44, from Austin, Texas, described it as “a severe hangover” but said symptoms quickly cleared-up.

READ MORE: Is Pfizer a British company? Where is Pfizer located, where is the covid vaccine made?

Covid vaccine: First volunteers describe side effects of Pfizer jab – what to expect

Coronavirus vaccine: Glenn Deshields, 44, from Austin, Texas, described it as “a severe hangover” (Image: Getty Images/PA:Press Association)

Another volunteer, 45-year-old Carrie from Missouri, said she experienced a headache, fever and body aches, after her first shot in September.

The side effects appeared to intensify after her second dose last month, she said.


It is important to note that the trial is double blind, meaning the participants do not know if they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo.

But Carrie, who works in publishing, believes she was subject to the real deal due to the side effects she experienced.

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Likewise, Mr Deshields’ hangover-like symptoms have informed his hunch.

The jolt to his immune system made him confident about the vaccine, but he was nevertheless “very excited” by Monday’s news.

He added: “My grandfather, one of his first memories was of the bells ringing when World War One ended.

“It was a horrific war and horrible things happened and people were just happy it was over with.

Covid vaccine: First volunteers describe side effects of Pfizer jab – what to expect


Vaccine response: The side effects described include headaches and sore muscles (Image: Getty Images)

“In my mind I felt the same way… I kind of felt it was something like that. Thank god, it’s going to be over at some point.”

Vaccine – UK latest

On Monday Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly addressed the significant vaccine development in the coronavirus press briefing.

If it passes all the rigorous safety checks and the results are consistent, a UK-wide NHS-led programme of vaccination distribution will be launched, the PM said.

He will consult the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to determine how to best allocate the vaccine.

Covid vaccine: First volunteers describe side effects of Pfizer jab – what to expect

Coronavirus: How does it compare to the flu? (Image: Getty Images)

According to JCVI, the following groups will have first dibs on the jab:

  • Older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
  • All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
  • All those 75 years of age and over
  • All those 70 years of age and over
  • All those 65 years of age and over
  • High-risk adults under 65 years of age
  • Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
  • All those 60 years of age and over
  • All those 55 years of age and over
  • All those 50 years of age and over
  • Rest of the population (priority to be determined).

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he was “hopeful but not yet certain” that a vaccine could be ready to be distributed across the country by Christmas.

He said: “Frankly, we’re in the middle of the second wave, and I don’t see the vaccine making any difference for the wave we are now in.


“I’m hopeful that it may prevent future waves, but this one we have to battle through to the end without a vaccine.”

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