How many Australians have had short-term reactions to COVID-19 vaccines?

More than half of Australians had a reaction to at least one of their first two doses of a COVID-19[feminine] vaccine, but less than 1% consulted a doctor.

These are the results of a new study by AusVaxSafety, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which surveyed more than three million Australians after being vaccinated.

The second dose of Pfizer and the first dose of AstraZeneca were the doses that caused most Australians to feel unwell in the days after the injections, according to the study.

Most people have had a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Nearly 55% of people who took Pfizer reported a reaction after the second dose, while only 36% had a reaction to the first dose.

Almost 53% of people who received AstraZeneca reported a reaction after the first dose, and only 22% reported one after the second dose.

The most common symptoms were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue and muscle aches.

Most people said the symptoms were “short-lived” and resolved within eight days of receiving the vaccine.

According to the study, only 0.9% of people consulted a doctor within three days of vaccination.

The researchers also found that adverse events were more frequently reported by people with underlying medical conditions, including a history of anaphylaxis.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.  NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, marking the state's deadliest day since the pandemic began.  NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24-hour reporting period.  (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

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They found that the risk of a reaction to a vaccine was “higher for women than for men, for people with a history of anaphylaxis, and for people reporting certain underlying conditions, including obesity, immunodeficiency or chronic inflammatory disease”.

The researchers also found that the frequency of reactions was higher for COVID-19 vaccines than for other vaccines in Australia.

“Perhaps because mRNA and viral vector vaccines cause transient mild to moderate side effects more often than other types of vaccines,” the researchers wrote.

The study surveyed 3,035,983 people who received COVID-19 vaccines between February 22, 2021 and August 30, 2021, asking about any reactions they may have experienced three days and eight days after receiving a vaccine.

It included frontline workers, older people, people with underlying health conditions and Indigenous Australians.

The study authors said they were continuing to monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia, including for booster doses.

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