Self-reported side effects of COVID-19 vaccines among the public

Mahmathi Karuppannan, Long Chiau Ming, Mohd Shahezwan Abdul Wahab, Zakiah Mohd Noordin, Shermaine Yee, Andi Hermansyah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The safety, side effects and efficacy profile of COVID-19 vaccines remain subjects of ongoing concern among the public in Malaysia. The aim of this study was to determine the types of adverse effects following immunisation with COVID-19 vaccines and the differences based on various types of COVID-19 vaccines to raise public awareness and reduce vaccine hesitancy among the public. Methods: A total of 901 Malaysian adults (≥18 years) who received various COVID-19 vaccines were selected to participate in our cross-sectional study through an online survey between December 2021 and January 2022. Results: A total of 814 (90.3%) of the participants reported ≥1 side effect following COVID-19 immunisation. Of these, the predominant symptoms were swelling at the injection site (n = 752, 83.5%), headache (n = 638, 70.8%), pain or soreness at the injection site (n = 628, 69.7%), fatigue or tiredness (n = 544, 60.4%), muscle weakness (n = 529, 58.7%) and diarrhea (n = 451, 50.1%). Recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty ®) vaccine reported the highest number of adverse effects (n = 355, 43.6%), followed by mixed COVID-19 vaccines (n = 254, 31.2%), the Oxford-AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-®[recombinant]) vaccine (n = 113, 13.9%) and the Sinovac (CoronaVac®) vaccine (n = 90, 11.1%). The study showed that individuals who reported significantly more side effects were of elderly age, female gender and high educational level [P value < 0.05]. Mixed COVID-19 vaccine recipients also reported significantly more local and systemic symptoms after the first dose and third dose when compared with other single vaccine recipients. Conclusion: This study demonstrated the types of self-reported adverse effects following immunisation with single and mixed COVID-19 vaccines. These findings may provide the side effects of different COVID-19 vaccines with the hope of educating the public on the safety profiles of these vaccines and reducing vaccine hesitancy among the public.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2308617
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Side (adverse) effect
  • communicable diseases
  • infectious disease‌
  • mixed vaccine
  • single vaccine
  • vaccine hesitancy


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