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Could shaking, convulsions, and tongue spasms really be side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine, specifically Moderna's?

Could shaking, convulsions, and tongue spasms really be side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine, specifically Moderna's?

This article was published on
January 20, 2021

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Vaccines imitate real infections in our bodies, and they can sometimes cause minor symptoms in people. This happens because, in trying to fight off the imitation infection, some bodies develop real symptoms. As of January 25, 2021, almost 55 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given to help protect people from a COVID-19 infection. Within this group, medical research has not found the symptoms of shaking, convulsions or tongue spasms as known side effects of the vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have said that these symptoms have not been documented in any reported vaccine patients and are not in line with the list of side effects noted during clinical trials. Additionally, the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has yet to receive any reports from patients that list these side effects after they received their vaccines. However, it is recommended that anyone who has had previous allergic reactions to vaccines to not receive an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, because in very few cases they can cause allergic reactions. When vaccines are distributed at scale, the way they currently are for COVID-19, some little known side effects may be reported during the rollout. Those side effects may or may not be related to the vaccine itself. Despite national health, medical, drug regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies noting that side effects like convulsions and shaking are not listed and have not been reported, it is important for anyone experiencing any severe side effects to report them to their physician and drug regulatory agencies and seek medical care immediately. While vaccine side effects are often minimal, fevers and pain at the injection site sometimes occur after vaccination. Severe side effects are rare and must be quickly reported to the patient's physician and national medication regulatory agencies.

Vaccines imitate real infections in our bodies, and they can sometimes cause minor symptoms in people. This happens because, in trying to fight off the imitation infection, some bodies develop real symptoms. As of January 25, 2021, almost 55 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given to help protect people from a COVID-19 infection. Within this group, medical research has not found the symptoms of shaking, convulsions or tongue spasms as known side effects of the vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have said that these symptoms have not been documented in any reported vaccine patients and are not in line with the list of side effects noted during clinical trials. Additionally, the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has yet to receive any reports from patients that list these side effects after they received their vaccines. However, it is recommended that anyone who has had previous allergic reactions to vaccines to not receive an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, because in very few cases they can cause allergic reactions. When vaccines are distributed at scale, the way they currently are for COVID-19, some little known side effects may be reported during the rollout. Those side effects may or may not be related to the vaccine itself. Despite national health, medical, drug regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies noting that side effects like convulsions and shaking are not listed and have not been reported, it is important for anyone experiencing any severe side effects to report them to their physician and drug regulatory agencies and seek medical care immediately. While vaccine side effects are often minimal, fevers and pain at the injection site sometimes occur after vaccination. Severe side effects are rare and must be quickly reported to the patient's physician and national medication regulatory agencies.

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What our experts say

Vaccines imitate real infections in our bodies, and they can sometimes cause minor symptoms in people. This happens because, in trying to fight off the imitation infection, some bodies develop real symptoms.

As of January 25, 2021, almost 55 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given to help protect people from a COVID-19 infection. Within this group, medical research has not found the symptoms of shaking, convulsions or tongue spasms as known side effects of the vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have said that these symptoms have not been documented in any reported vaccine patients and are not in line with the list of side effects noted during clinical trials. Additionally, the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has yet to receive any reports from patients that list these side effects after they received their vaccines. However, it is recommended that anyone who has had previous allergic reactions to vaccines to not receive an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, because in very few cases they can cause allergic reactions.

When vaccines are distributed at scale, the way they currently are for COVID-19, some little known side effects may be reported during the rollout. Those side effects may or may not be related to the vaccine itself. Despite national health, medical, drug regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies noting that side effects like convulsions and shaking are not listed and have not been reported, it is important for anyone experiencing any severe side effects to report them to their physician and drug regulatory agencies and seek medical care immediately.

While vaccine side effects are often minimal, fevers and pain at the injection site sometimes occur after vaccination. Severe side effects are rare and must be quickly reported to the patient's physician and national medication regulatory agencies.

Vaccines imitate real infections in our bodies, and they can sometimes cause minor symptoms in people. This happens because, in trying to fight off the imitation infection, some bodies develop real symptoms.

As of January 25, 2021, almost 55 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been given to help protect people from a COVID-19 infection. Within this group, medical research has not found the symptoms of shaking, convulsions or tongue spasms as known side effects of the vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have said that these symptoms have not been documented in any reported vaccine patients and are not in line with the list of side effects noted during clinical trials. Additionally, the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has yet to receive any reports from patients that list these side effects after they received their vaccines. However, it is recommended that anyone who has had previous allergic reactions to vaccines to not receive an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, because in very few cases they can cause allergic reactions.

When vaccines are distributed at scale, the way they currently are for COVID-19, some little known side effects may be reported during the rollout. Those side effects may or may not be related to the vaccine itself. Despite national health, medical, drug regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies noting that side effects like convulsions and shaking are not listed and have not been reported, it is important for anyone experiencing any severe side effects to report them to their physician and drug regulatory agencies and seek medical care immediately.

While vaccine side effects are often minimal, fevers and pain at the injection site sometimes occur after vaccination. Severe side effects are rare and must be quickly reported to the patient's physician and national medication regulatory agencies.

Context and background

Recently, two videos on social media showed two women experiencing symptoms of shaking, convulsions and tongue spasms, which they said began after receiving the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, respectively. After seeking medical treatment, these women were diagnosed with potential other illnesses, unrelated to the vaccines themselves.

Both women underwent evaluations of their bodies and symptoms like MRIs, CT scans and blood tests but their symptoms could not be traced to the vaccine. Instead, both women's social media posts referenced what doctors suggested as possible causes: stress-related symptoms in one and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome in the other.

As of January 19, 2021, CrowdTangle has reported that one of these women's videos demonstrating her symptoms has been viewed by 4.4 million people while a video posted by the other woman's family at a similar time had been viewed more than 5.2 million times. It is important for social media viewers to recognize that it appears the symptoms these women were experiencing were likely a coincidence and not caused by the vaccine itself. When the health of millions of people depends on the majority receiving a vaccine, any social media posts that deter people from obtaining a vaccine should be highly scrutinized and evaluated by scientists and medical professionals (which has since happened with these posts). Anyone who has severe symptoms after receiving the vaccine should contact their medical professional and seek medical attention immediately before reporting these potential side effects to national health authorities.

Though the vaccine was very unlikely to cause these symptoms, as many national medical and drug agencies have demonstrated, it is important to take any severe symptoms seriously regardless of the cause.

Recently, two videos on social media showed two women experiencing symptoms of shaking, convulsions and tongue spasms, which they said began after receiving the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, respectively. After seeking medical treatment, these women were diagnosed with potential other illnesses, unrelated to the vaccines themselves.

Both women underwent evaluations of their bodies and symptoms like MRIs, CT scans and blood tests but their symptoms could not be traced to the vaccine. Instead, both women's social media posts referenced what doctors suggested as possible causes: stress-related symptoms in one and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome in the other.

As of January 19, 2021, CrowdTangle has reported that one of these women's videos demonstrating her symptoms has been viewed by 4.4 million people while a video posted by the other woman's family at a similar time had been viewed more than 5.2 million times. It is important for social media viewers to recognize that it appears the symptoms these women were experiencing were likely a coincidence and not caused by the vaccine itself. When the health of millions of people depends on the majority receiving a vaccine, any social media posts that deter people from obtaining a vaccine should be highly scrutinized and evaluated by scientists and medical professionals (which has since happened with these posts). Anyone who has severe symptoms after receiving the vaccine should contact their medical professional and seek medical attention immediately before reporting these potential side effects to national health authorities.

Though the vaccine was very unlikely to cause these symptoms, as many national medical and drug agencies have demonstrated, it is important to take any severe symptoms seriously regardless of the cause.

Resources

  1. Understanding How Vaccines Work (U.S. CDC)
  2. Shawn Skelton Profile (Facebook)
  3. The ‘shaking’ COVID-19 vaccine side-effect videos and what we know about them (Politifact)
  4. They claimed the Covid-19 vaccine made them ill. Then they went viral (Wired)
  5. Indiana woman's viral video claims serious COVID-19 vaccine side effects, doctors dispute cause (USA Today)
  6. What Are the Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccines? (AARP)
  7. CDC: Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine can cause allergic reaction in some people (MarketWatch)
  1. Understanding How Vaccines Work (U.S. CDC)
  2. Shawn Skelton Profile (Facebook)
  3. The ‘shaking’ COVID-19 vaccine side-effect videos and what we know about them (Politifact)
  4. They claimed the Covid-19 vaccine made them ill. Then they went viral (Wired)
  5. Indiana woman's viral video claims serious COVID-19 vaccine side effects, doctors dispute cause (USA Today)
  6. What Are the Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccines? (AARP)
  7. CDC: Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine can cause allergic reaction in some people (MarketWatch)

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