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BRHD Epidemiologist Discusses What To Expect With Second Vaccine Dose


Vaccine distribution in Utah began in December and January, which means many people are preparing to receive their second doses and there are many stories and rumors surrounding what that will be like.

“About 70% of people have a sore arm for the following day. The next most common reactions to the vaccine are fatigue, headache, muscle pains, chills, fever, so pretty typical reactions for when your immune system is kicking into response,” said Caleb Harrison, the epidemiologist at the Bear River Health Department.

Despite reactions to the vaccine being common, Harrison said it’s effective and safe.

As a hot topic in the media and online, misinformation about COVID vaccines has spread rapidly. In some cases, Harrison said rumors started by a single person have managed to take hold and spread in what seems to be a nationwide game of telephone.

Some common misconceptions include that the vaccine can give you COVID and that the vaccine’s effectiveness depends on how severe your reaction is.

“The vaccine can't give anyone COVID. The mRNA vaccines that we have right now, that's not using the virus. It's just, you know, triggering that immune response. So that way, if your body does see that virus in the future, it can fight it quickly. On average vaccines have 95% efficacy, so whether or not you receive a reaction, it's going to protect you from the virus,” Harrison said.

With new virus variants evolving, what we do in the next few months is critical.

“We're in a race between vaccinating the population before the virus finds a mutation that renders the mRNA vaccines less effective,” Harrison said. “Even though we're seeing cases come down, you know, then people may say, well, it's time to return back to normal. I think right now is really critical time to continue to have those measures in place, because the less we can let this virus spread, the less chance we give it to find a mutation that could undo some of the work that we've done in developing and distributing this vaccine.”

For more information about the COVID vaccine or how to sign up to receive the vaccine, visit

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.