Doctor says younger people may experience more severe vaccine side effects — and it’s a good thing

Doctor says younger people may experience more severe vaccine side effects — and it's a good thing
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WatchThose 40 years and older can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, but now many are facing severe flu-like symptoms but one doctor says, this is good news.

A Nanaimo doctor says it is expected that a younger group of recently vaccinated people would feel more severe side effects.

Pharmacies across B.C. have been busy booking and administering immunizations, ever since the province announced earlier this week that people 40 years and older could get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Mentally, I’m feeling wonderful because I have a vaccine, and that’s the most important thing,” said Bharat Chandramouli, a 48-year-old in Victora who received his vaccine on Friday. “The kind of ongoing relief is immense right? It’s shot one.”

Although there’s a sense of relief, the vaccine also brought on some side effects.

“The next morning, it’s when I started feeling cold day-one type symptoms, without the snot and the general fluids, some body pain, some chills,” said Chandramouli.

And he’s not alone. The hashtag #GenXZeneca on Twitter shows dozens of others sharing their experiences getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some said they felt nothing, while others described severe flu-like symptoms.

There are no reports that the AstraZeneca vaccine causes more severe symptoms than any other vaccine, according to experts.

Dr. David Forrest, who specializes in infectious diseases and critical care medicine, says it makes sense that this younger group of recently vaccinated people is feeling more severe side effects, explaining that age plays a big part in how hard the symptoms can hit.

“All vaccines induce an immune response to the protein that’s being the target,” said Dr. Forrest. “As a consequence, the stronger that immunologic response to that target protein, the more likely one is to feel side effects.”

The stronger the immune system response, the more likely you are to feel side effects, he explained. Typically younger people respond better than older demographics.

“I suspect that’s why younger people are suffering more side effects. If anything, it’s a good thing because it shows the immunogenicity is good,” said the Nanaimo doctor.

And since the AstraZeneca vaccine is the only vaccine readily available to younger demographics, it’s expected for those receiving it to feel the effects more than older generations.

One of those newly immunized British Columbians is Colwood’s mayor, who received his shot on Thursday.

“I didn’t really have any effects until about seven hours later, and I really wasn’t feeling well,” said Mayor Rob Martin. “I would describe it as like you’re having the flu, your stomach doesn’t feel well, you have a headache, you feel like you have a fever.”

He says it came in waves but it took him out for the day.

“On Friday I got up in the morning, felt wonderful,” said Martin. “By lunchtime, it was horrible. I just did not feel well at all, I actually went to bed I slept for about an hour, got up, felt fantastic and I mowed the lawn. Then I stopped mowing the lawn, came back in and didn’t feel well again.”

READ MORE: Victoria pharmacies busy administering AstraZeneca vaccine

Even with the side effects, both Chandramouli and Martin say it was worth it.

“I am 100 per cent, just go for it. It’s worth it, there’s no, no comparison at all,” said Chandramouli.

“I am so happy I did it, I hope and encourage everyone to get it,” said the mayor. “If you’re not catching it, it also means you’re not spreading it and it’s protecting our community so really you’re not only doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the community, so go ahead and do it.”

Right now, Vancouver Island and the rest of B.C. are facing an AstraZeneca vaccine shortage.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says it is not known when B.C. will receive more, but when it does, those 40 and older are encouraged to book a vaccine appointment with their local pharmacies.

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READ MORE: ‘That will be it for this moment,’ Dix says of AstraZeneca shortage on Vancouver Island

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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