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‘Flu-Like Symptoms’: Frontliners Share Common Side Effects After Getting COVID-19 Vaccine
PHOTO BY Jerome Ascano
  • “Halos kaladkarin ko yung sarili ko papuntang work at lunchtime.”

    This was how registered nurse Michelle Jamoralin, in her late 30s, described how she felt in the days after receiving her first jab of Sinovac. Being a healthcare worker, Michelle was among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    She felt normal immediately after the jab but experienced worsening muscle pain and weakness as the day progressed. The next day she had “unimaginable body aches, muscle pains, muscle weakness, flu-like symptoms except fever.”

    “Nagpapawis ka ng malamig, tachycardia/fast heartbeat, mabigat yung legs As the day progresses, yung muscle aches nagraradiate pataas hangang buttocks to lower back,” Michelle recalled.

    The adverse affects from the vaccine ebbed around five days after. Thankfully, her second dose only made her arm sore.

    Michelle’s was a relatively bad albeit uncommon reaction to the vaccine. 

    For Angel Quilang, a staff nurse who was inoculated with Sinovac, the side effects were minimal. "For the first 24 hours, I felt a soreness on the injection site and a mild headache. On the second dose, I just felt heavy on the arm where I got injected. So far, very mild lang ang na-experience ko na symptoms for Sinovac, and all were expected," she shares in an interview with Cosmo.ph.

    Sushen Celeris-Cortez, a frontliner and a mom who took the AstraZeneca vaccine tells SmartParenting.com.ph, "I felt sick hours after vaccination, but it's a good sign that my immune system is responding well to the vaccine. At my workplace, halos lahat na kami vaccinated na including some of the [preggos]."


    The Department of Health (DOH) has been vocal about possible adverse effects “similar to having the flu but this should go away in a few days.” These are “normal signs that one’s body is developing protection against COVID-19,” according to a press statement by the DOH.

    In the Philippines, only 2.45 percent of over 1 million people who received the vaccine experienced side effects, assured Dr. Eric Domingo, head of the Food and Drug Administration.

    The vaccines available in the Philippines right now — Sinovac and AstraZeneca — require two doses. The immune response kicks in after a week or two of the first dose; the second serves as a booster.

    “Yung iba kong kasama sa work na nag-Astra, nilagnat talaga sila up to 40 degrees,” Michelle shared.

    Despite the side effects she experienced, Michelle knows taking the vaccine is the first step toward herd immunity. 

    "Ang talagang purpose of it is herd immunity. Pero everything (generally every medicine invented or being studied) still boils down to 'risk versus benefit.'"

    She acknowledged being against it in the beginning but family won her over. "Yung family ko is actively researching on it also, it became a collective decision (to get the jab)."

    “The vaccines can protect us from one, mild or asymptomatic COVID; second, from moderate or severe COVID; and third from transmission,” Dr. Beverly Ho, DOH Director for Health Promotion and Communication Service, tells Smart Parenting.

    It is unclear how long immunity lasts after the vaccine. This is why the DOH recommends to “continue wearing masks, staying at least 1 meter away from others, avoiding crowds, and washing hands often to protect yourself and your family.”

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    “We really need to continue these precautions while we’re still learning about what the vaccines can do,” said Dr. Katherine O’brien, a professor at the Department of International Health and Department of Epidemiology at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in an informational video produced by the World Health Organization.

    How can vaccinated individuals further help prevent the spread of COVID19?

    • Stay at home unless travel is essential
    • Open windows and ensure proper ventilation and air circulation at home or your place of work
    • Eat a balanced and healthy diet, exercise, and avoid smoking and alcohol
    • Call your Barangay Health Emergency Response Team if you have symptoms and possible exposure to the virus

    “We don’t really have the evidence yet for using the vaccines in some age groups…(And) we don’t have enough vaccine yet out in the community to protect everybody,” O’brien said.

    O’brien said it is advisable to only set aside these precautions when experts learn enough about the virus and the vaccine and after a big enough section of the population is vaccinated.

    Additional reporting by Kitty Elicay

    Got questions about the COVID-19 vaccines? We answer them here.

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