What you should do if you experience Covid-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine

Doctors have urged members of the public to follow safety measures even after being fully vaccinated

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Doctors have urged members of the public to continue to follow Covid-19 safety rules after being vaccinated against the virus, to avoid putting themselves and others at risk.

Some patients complained of mild fever, headaches and body aches after being inoculated with their first dose, but many brushed off the symptoms as side effects of the vaccine.

However, doctors said the Covid-19 vaccine does not provide full or immediate protection, which means it is still possible to test positive for the virus.

You can pick up an infection from anywhere, even after having the vaccine

If symptoms persist for more than three days,  anyone who received the vaccine should err on the side of caution and seek medical advice.

“You can pick up an infection from anywhere, even after having the vaccine,” said Dr Shipra Sen, internal medicine specialist at Zulekha Hospital in Dubai.

“Covid-19 symptoms can manifest before or after the jab has been administered and might only show a few days after.

“That is why people still need to abide by safety measures and social distancing, even after they have been inoculated."

“It’s important people realise that the vaccine itself would not be the cause of a positive result,” she said.

Dr Sen said if medication such as oral anti-inflammatories do not ease fever or body aches after three days, a PCR test would be advisable.

Patients should also be aware of common side effects of the vaccine, said Dr Ahmad Jallad, specialist family medicine at NMC Royal Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

These may include pain and swelling at the area of the injection.

Dr Ahmad Jallad, specialist family medicine at NMC Royal Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy: NMC Royal Hospital

"They might also experience side effects such as chills, fever, headache or generalised body aches," Dr Jallad said.

“To ease side effects, the patient may apply a wet washcloth or use simple pain killers, such as paracetamol.

"Symptoms are usually mild and limited compared to Covid-19 symptoms – which may last longer and could include dry cough, sore throat, diarrhoea or loss of taste or smell.

In cases where a PCR test was needed,  Dr Jallad said this was unlikely to return a false-positive result in patients who had received the Sinopharm vaccine. This vaccine is widely used in the UAE.

The Sinopharm vaccine is produced using an inactivated SARS virus, while the PCR tests check for active disease, not immunity.

Teenager tested positive after being immunised

Al Ain resident Lisa Dennis, 18, tested positive for the virus after receiving her second dose. Courtesy: Joseph Dennis

Al Ain resident Lisa Dennis, 18, was one of the first batch to receive the Sinopharm vaccine on December 26.

She received her second dose on January 16 but tested positive for Covid-19 on February 1.

"She experienced all the flu-like symptoms in the first few days after the vaccine but when she was unable to taste or smell, we were convinced that she was positive for Covid-19," her father, Joseph Dennis, told The National on Thursday.

“My wife, daughter and I went for the PCR test. For my wife and I, our results were negative but our daughter’s test came back positive.

“We have not exited our apartment since.

"We were comforted by the fact that we were fully vaccinated, and we are aware that if we should contract the virus, like my daughter, the effects will be mild, as opposed to not being vaccinated at all," Mr Dennis said.

“Our daughter was fitted with a tracking device and had to isolate in her bedroom for 10 days. She received her second negative result today.”

Emma Woodcock, 51, who lives in Dubai, received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on February 1,

On days five to eight after her jab, she experienced terrible symptoms, which she thought were down to the vaccine.

“I was really rough with fatigue and a sore throat from days five to eight after the vaccine,” she said.

“I've taken two PCR tests this week. One I went to by myself and the other was requested by my GP.

“Both were negative, however I have an extremely sore throat and my doctor has put me on antibiotics for five days.

She said she would continue to self isolate and take another PCR test if her symptoms persist.

In early January, hundreds of people in Israel contracted Covid-19 days after receiving their first vaccination dose.

The Israeli outbreak highlighted the risks of not adhering to safety measures when not fully inoculated.

Health workers advise people to continue to wear masks, keep socially distant and maintain good hand hygiene, even if they have had the vaccine.