Vaccines and side effects – no long-term harm to health

Fact checking

Sara Markovic, UNCEF young reporter
fact checking blog visual
UNICEF Montenegro
14 April 2021

Various conspiracy theories and myths about vaccines are circulating on the internet. We are interested in whether various allegations about the side effects and information about the long-term harmful effect of vaccines on the health of vaccinated citizens are true.

The information we often came across in the media and on social networks is:

  • The vaccine against coronavirus has negative side effects

We asked Dr. Marija Božović from the Public Health Institute of Montenegro (IJZCG) what the possible side effects are and whether they are common:

Studies done on vaccines’ side effects have shown that there are no serious side effects after vaccination. As for minor side effects after vaccination, these can be in the form of a localized effect such as pain, swelling or redness at the injection site and again some systemic effects in the form of a fever, then pain in the muscles and joints, nausea and fainting.

Dr. Marija Božović from the Public Health Institute of Montenegro

Dr. Božović points out that the appearance of these effects is not something to be concerned about, considering that human immunity is activated after vaccination and the organism produces antibodies.

These effects caused by vaccination last for a couple of hours and are thousands of times rarer than the negative effects that occur after coronavirus infection.

An answer to this question was also given by the World Health Organization:

“The reported side effects of COVID-19 vaccines were generally mild to moderate, and short-lived. These include: high temperature, tiredness, headache, muscle aches, fever, diarrhoea and injection site pain. The chances of any of these side effects after vaccination vary depending on the specific COVID-19 vaccine.”

We also asked experts at the Clinical Centre of Montenegro (KCCG) whether vaccines against COVID-19 can cause long-term health consequences. Dr. Djordje Krnjevic said:

Vaccines against COVID-19 cannot cause long-term consequences. These vaccines have undergone clinical trials which have shown precisely that the vaccine is not harmful to the human body.

Dr. Djordje Krnjevic from the Clinical Centre of Montenegro

For now, there is no study or research that has confirmed that the vaccines can have long-term negative effects on our health, Dr. Krnjevic told us.

The WHO, a reliable and expert source of information on the subject, claims that the vaccines are safe – which also means they do not cause any long-term, negative health effects.

“There are strict safeguards to ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Before being validated by the WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to demonstrate that they meet internationally agreed safety and efficacy measures.”

The WHO also states that vaccine safety monitoring is provided at the national, regional and global levels, and that this is common practice in all national immunization programmes.

As a conclusion to this research, we learned that minor side effects due to vaccination are possible, that they do not last long, do not affect human health in the long run and they are extremely rare. Vaccines are safe, their effectiveness is constantly being monitored, and there are no studies that have proven that they cause long-term, negative health consequences.

In an effort to contribute to preventing the dissemination of coronavirus misinformation and to promoting credible sources of information, UNICEF’s young reporters have decided to check the accuracy of information published on social media and in the media that has attracted public attention. In verifying the accuracy of information, they have followed the example of the Public Disclosure Platform “Raskrinkavanje“ and partly used its publicly available methodology.