Is appendicitis a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

You may have heard of several side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. But appendicitis is probably not one of them.

Although appendicitis has been documented after the COVID-19 vaccine, it is still unclear whether it is an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Research on this topic has yielded mixed results.

Below, we’ll discuss appendicitis in more detail, its potential link to the COVID-19 vaccine, and its known side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. Keep reading to learn more.

Appendicitis occurs when your appendix becomes inflamed. Your appendix is ​​a hollow pouch attached to your large intestine. It’s in the lower right part of your abdomen.

When the opening of the appendix becomes blocked, it can lead to appendicitis. Some things that can cause blockages include:

Sometimes the exact cause of appendicitis is unknown. Either way, blocking the opening of the appendix leads to a buildup of bacteria and inflammation. This causes symptoms such as:

Appendicitis is a medical emergency. If not treated quickly, the appendix can burst, leading to serious and life-threatening complications like peritonitis and abscess formation.

Appendicitis has been reported following vaccination against COVID-19. A possible mechanism for this could be enlarged or swollen lymph nodes in the body after vaccination.

Research on this topic is conflicting. Some data indicate that appendicitis may be a potential adverse effect of vaccination, while others note that the risk of appendicitis after vaccination is no higher than in the general population.

Appendicitis detected in COVID-19 vaccine trials

Appendicitis was noted in the large clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Of 43,448 trial participants, 8 in the vaccine group and 4 in the placebo group developed appendicitis.

These cases were considered unrelated to vaccination. This is because they did not occur more frequently than expected in the general population.

Research indicating that appendicitis is an adverse effect of the COVID-19 vaccine

A study 2021 examined the adverse effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on more than 1.7 million people in Israel. The researchers used a matched group of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals for each adverse effect.

The adverse event most strongly associated with vaccination was myocarditis. But the researchers also found an increased risk of swollen lymph nodes and appendicitis.

Another one study 2021 looked at appendicitis after COVID-19 vaccination using a database from the World Health Organization (WHO). At the time of the study, researchers estimated that 1.82 billion doses of the vaccine had been administered worldwide.

From the database, the researchers were able to find 334 unique reports of appendicitis after vaccination. Most of them were associated with mRNA vaccines and occurred 0-4 days after vaccination.

The researchers found that the number of cases of appendicitis after vaccination was slightly higher than expected. They concluded that appendicitis was a possible adverse effect of the COVID-19 vaccination, but that further research was needed.

Research indicating that appendicitis is NOT an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine

A study 2021 disagree with the conclusions above. In this study, researchers in the United States assessed vaccine safety data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink for 23 adverse events.

A total of 11,845,128 doses of mRNA vaccine administered to 6.2 million people were included in the study. The researchers found that the incidence of appendicitis in people receiving an mRNA vaccine was not significantly higher than expected.

A study 2022 looked at appendicitis and vaccination against COVID-19 in a large cohort of people in Denmark. The researchers compared more than 4 million people vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine to an unvaccinated reference group.

Appendicitis has been found to occur in about 8 cases per 100,000 people vaccinated. When this rate was compared to the rate of appendicitis in the unvaccinated reference group, no significant difference was found.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)the most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are:

  • swelling, redness, or pain at the injection site
  • fatigue
  • fever, with or without chills
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • nausea

These side effects are a sign that your immune system is mounting a response to the vaccine. Vaccine side effects usually go away on their own within a few days. In the meantime, you can help mitigate them by:

  • stay hydrated
  • to rest
  • place a cold compress over the injection site
  • taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for symptoms like fever and pain

If your side effects do not go away within a few days or start to get worse, contact a doctor.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19. As such, the CDC currently recommends COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for anyone age 5 and older.

Vaccination is especially essential for people with a increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease. This includes, but is not limited to, immunocompromised people and those with medical conditions such as:

Getting immunity through vaccination is also safer than getting immunity by having COVID-19. Contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can cause severe illness in some people and lead to long-term health problems, including long COVID.

Although any treatment, drug or vaccine has risks, the risks of serious complications from COVID-19 are extremely low. This includes appendicitis.

For example, according to CDC, anaphylaxis only occurs in 5 out of 1 million vaccine doses. Additionally, out of more than 55 million doses of vaccine given to people under the age of 18, only 647 cases of myocarditis have been confirmed.

Although appendicitis has been reported as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is not entirely clear if this is an actual adverse effect of vaccination. Research results have been mixed on this topic, and more research is needed overall.

Anyway, appendicitis after vaccination happened very rarely.

Overall, the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the potential risks. If you have any concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, discuss them with a doctor.

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