Vaccines undergo rigorous testing for safety and efficacy before being approved for use. The vast majority of vaccine side effects are mild and short-lived. Serious side effects are rare, and the benefits of vaccination typically far outweigh the potential risks.
Long-term side effects are uncommon, but they can occur. Some examples of rare long-term side effects include:
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS): GBS is a rare neurological disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. It has been associated with some vaccines, such as the seasonal flu vaccine and the 1976 swine flu vaccine. However, the risk of developing GBS after vaccination is extremely low, and the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks.
- Intussusception: This is a rare form of bowel obstruction that has been associated with the first version of the rotavirus vaccine (RotaShield), which was withdrawn from the market in 1999. The currently available rotavirus vaccines (Rotateq and Rotarix) have a much lower risk of intussusception and provide significant protection against severe rotavirus infections in infants.
- Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA): This rare side effect can occur if a vaccine is injected too high in the shoulder, resulting in inflammation, pain, and reduced range of motion. SIRVA is preventable with proper injection technique.
- Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS): TTS is a rare side effect associated with the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. It involves blood clot formation and low platelet levels. The risk of TTS is very low, and these vaccines still provide significant protection against COVID-19.
It is important to note that these long-term side effects are rare, and vaccines have a well-established safety profile. The benefits of preventing severe illness, complications, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases far outweigh the potential risks of rare side effects.