COVID omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variant booster shots: What are the side effects?

COVID-19 vaccine

This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company’s updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. U.S. regulators have authorized updated COVID-19 boosters, the first to directly target today’s most common omicron strain. The move on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2022, by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives. (Pfizer via AP)AP

The new COVID-19 omicron booster shots target both the original strain of the virus as well as two of the common variants – BA.4 and BA.5.

There are two versions of the bivalent booster, one made by Pfizer-BioNTech for people ages 12 and older and the other by Moderna which is for people ages 18 and older. The booster doses use reduced amounts of the original vaccines and only those who have completed their primary vaccination series – two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine – are eligible to receive the booster.

Experts said side effects from the boosters should not differ too much from those of the initial vaccines. The most common side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

The first COVID vaccine launched in early 2021 as two-shot series for Pfizer and Moderna, or a single shot from Johnson and Johnson. As immunity waned in patients, federal officials recommended a round of boosters in fall of 2021. By spring 2022, federal officials recommended a fourth shot, or a second booster, for people ages 50 and older and those in certain high-risk groups.


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