Side Effects

What side effects are expected following COVID-19 vaccination?

Side effects following COVID-19 vaccination are common and can be expected.

Reported side effects to COVID-19 vaccines have mostly been mild to moderate and short-lasting. They include: fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea, and pain at the injection site. Side effects can affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.

What should I do if I experience mild or moderate side effects?

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection.

To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
  • Use your arm normally
  • Take paracetamol (follow the advice on the packaging)

If you have fever or general aches and pain, take paracetamol (follow the advice on the packaging). Rest and drink plenty of fluids. If your fever lasts more than 48 hours or if you are still concerned please seek medical advice.

Go to your nearest health facility or call the Healthcare Professional phone number listed on your COVID-19 vaccination card.

What should I do if I experience serious side effects?

Serious side effects following COVID-19 vaccination are rare but may occur.

You may be having a severe allergic reaction if you notice any of these signs:

  • itchy skin
  • rash
  • breathing difficulties
  • swelling of the face or tongue
  • difficulty swallowing

You should seek medical assistance immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • swelling in your leg
  • persistent abdominal (belly) pain
  • neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection

What can be the cause of serious side effects?

Reports of adverse events following vaccination do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. Side effects can result from:

  • Vaccine product-related reaction: caused or precipitated by a vaccine due to one or more of the inherent properties of the vaccine product
  • Vaccine quality defect-related reaction: caused or precipitated by a vaccine that is due to one or more quality defects of the vaccine product, including its administration device as provided by the manufacturer
  • Immunization error-related reaction: caused by inappropriate vaccine handling, prescribing or administration
  • Immunization anxiety-related reaction: arising from anxiety about the immunization and fear of injection
  • Coincidental adverse event: happens after vaccination but is not caused by the vaccine or vaccination process

What should I do after experiencing serious side effects following COVID-19 vaccination?

If you experienced serious side effects following your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you must consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether to get the second dose.

How are events of serious side effects reported to the public?

When someone who has been vaccinated presents at a health facility (hospital) with side effects, medical professionals will firstly provide proper medical care and will conduct an investigation and a causality assessment. This will determine if the side effects are serious and if they are related to COVID-19 vaccination or the vaccine.

All serious events undergo medical review and verification by the National Vaccine Safety Expert Advisory Group to see if there are any safety issues needing further action.

The Ministry of Health undertake to report to the public any cases of serious adverse events confirmed to be related to COVID-19 vaccination or a vaccine product. These will be reported to the public in the weekly COVID-19 Situation Reports and through other avenues such as Press Releases, as appropriate.

Avoid speculation

Speculation about serious side effects following COVID-19 vaccination, including on social media, is irresponsible and must be avoided. This could undermine the steps taken by the Ministry of Health to reach adequate vaccination coverage to protect the population of Vanuatu from COVID-19.

For accurate information, members of the public should refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 website. Additional queries can be made by phone to the COVID-19 Information Line on 119 or by email to the National Health Emergency Operations Center on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.