One in five Americans say their COVID-19 vaccines came with side effects

June 22, 2021, 8:08 PM GMT+0

Just over one in five adults who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 (22%) say they have had some side effects from the injections. But reports of side effects depend on the vaccine received, and those who experienced side effects still believe that COVID-19 is the bigger threat (81%) compared to experiencing a reaction to the vaccine (19%).

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, nearly half of vaccinated respondents (49%) say they have been injected with the Pfizer vaccine, and 40% have received the Moderna vaccine. Just one in 11 (9%) have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Three-quarters of vaccinated Americans experienced no side effects (75%). Some did, however, and more people who received the two-dose Moderna vaccine report side effects (28%) than those who have been injected with either the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech (19%) or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines (16%).

Vaccinated adults over 65 (17%) are less likely than 30-to 44-year-olds (31%) and those under 30 (27%) to report experiencing side effects to the shot.

The side effects reported in an open-end section of the poll include fever, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, body aches and pains, and nausea. For most they lasted only a day or so. But some experienced side effects for days.

Weighing the risk of side effects vs catching COVID-19

Greater concern about the virus over experiencing vaccine side effects is not shared by those who have yet to be vaccinated and do not intend to be. These groups are generally less worried about contracting COVID-19 in general, and the vast majority rate the risk of negative side effects as a more signifcant risk (91%) than the possibility of personally being infected with the virus (9%).

The social circles of the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated are different. Three-quarters of those who are fully vaccinated have friends (75%) and family (77%) who are also vaccinated. Friends and family of those who reject the vaccine have also not received the vaccine.

As has been the case in previous polls, politics makes a difference in whether or not a person is vaccinated. Three-quarters of Democrats (74%), but only half of Republicans, are fully vaccinated. One-third of Republicans in this poll say they will not get the vaccine (compared to 4% of Democrats) and another 10% of Republicans aren’t sure (compared to 8% of Democrats).

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 13 - 15, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.0% for the overall sample.

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