How many have had severe reaction as 22,820 report jab side-effects

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Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out across the UK are safe, with the “overwhelming majority” of suspected side-effects being mild, the regulator has said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said its analysis showed a reporting rate of three suspected side-effects for every 1,000 doses of vaccine administered – with the issues reported being similar to those for the annual flu vaccine.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chairman of the Expert Working Group of the Independent Commission on Human Medicines, told a media briefing that Covid-19 vaccines were “extremely safe” and “hugely beneficial”.

It is the first time data on side-effects for jabs in use in the community has been scrutinised, including for the newer Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine.

From December 9 to January 24, the MHRA received 22,820 reports of suspected side-effects, with the vast majority being mild and in line with most other types of vaccine, the MHRA said.

These included sore arms and mild flu-like symptoms (such as headache, chills, fatigue and aching muscles) that are short-lived, reflecting the body’s normal immune response to vaccines.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said: “Vaccines are the most effective way to protect against Covid-19 and save lives and prevent serious complications from this terrible virus.

“The data we have collected provides further reassurance that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and continue to meet the rigorous regulatory standards required for all vaccines.

“We remain confident that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh any risks.

“Our priority is to ensure the public have safe and effective vaccines and we will continue to analyse, monitor and review all the safety data for these vaccines.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has reported a potential side effect to us – every report matters.”

In its report, the MHRA said its analysis covered a period when an estimated 5.4 million first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine had been administered, and around half a million second doses.