Health ministry: Elderly experience vaccination side effects less than younger people

The elderly are much less likely to experience side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine compared with young people, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

An expert panel to the ministry released interim findings at a meeting on Friday showing that 51% of people in their 20s experienced fevers of at least 37.5 C after their second shot, while the percentage was only 9% for those aged 65 or older.

“There is no need to be overly concerned about side effects, but those with symptoms that persist for more than two days are advised to see a doctor,” said a member of the ministry’s research team that compiled the report ahead of the start of inoculations for the elderly on Monday.

The team surveyed about 20,000 medical care workers who were inoculated with the vaccine developed by U.S.-based Pfizer Inc. from February. This time, it analyzed the symptoms of about 16,000 people who had received the shots twice.

The results showed in many cases that side effects were stronger after the second shot, and the elderly were less susceptible to experiencing symptoms.

After the second inoculation, 77% of people in their 20s experienced sluggishness affecting their entire body, compared with 38% of those aged 65 or older. Headaches were reported by 63% of people in their 20s and 21% of the elderly. Pain in the inoculated arm was felt by 92% of twentysomethings, compared with 80% for people aged 65 or older. All symptoms were reported less by men.

Out of 100,000 shots given by April 4, about seven cases were classified as severe anaphylactic reactions by international standards. The panel said there are no serious concerns about anaphylactic reactions.

The panel also reported that four men and women in their 60s and 70s who had been vaccinated died. Two of them died due to cerebral hemorrhage. One died of acute heart failure, and another drowned. The team could not confirm at this point a causal relation between their deaths and vaccination.