Published: 25 August 2021
Revised: 10 May 2022

COVID-19

Post Vaccine Symptom Check: Adult survey results

Medsafe advises people NOT to make any decisions about vaccination based on information contained in this report. If you have questions or concerns about receiving a vaccine, please speak to a health care professional.

Introduction

The Post Vaccine Symptom Check (PVSC) survey is an additional way to report suspected reactions to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty).

The information from the Post Vaccine Symptom Check survey supports ongoing safety monitoring of Comirnaty, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine used in New Zealand. Find out more about how we are monitoring COVID-19 vaccine safety.

The data collected from the PVSC survey has not raised any new safety concerns for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

About the PVSC surveys

The first PVSC campaign took place from 27 August to 5 October 2021 and surveyed people who had received dose 1 or dose 2 of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. On 29 November 2021, booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine became available to those aged 18 years and over. From 14 December 2021, the Ministry of Health sent text messages to random samples of people who had received a booster dose. Text messages asked eligible participants if they had experienced an adverse event/reaction after their vaccination. Participants who answered YES were asked to complete a survey to provide more information about the event. This publication includes the PVSC survey results from dose 1, dose 2, and booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The information on this page shows the number of reports from a randomly sampled population as part of the PVSC campaign. It does not represent the total number of people who experience an adverse event after their vaccination. Not everyone will report a reaction to the vaccine, and some might submit a CARM report themselves. This report to CARM then forms part of the Medsafe Safety reports.

The number of vaccine adverse event reports in the PVSC can be influenced by the number of participants, the nature of the symptoms (eg, how painful the vaccination was), and other factors (eg, concurrent viral infection or other medications taken), which vary over time.

The information presented below is limited by the responses to the survey for Dose 1, 2 and Boosters in those aged 18 years and over Further surveys may be run to coincide with the requirements of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, and as such responses may be updated to reflect further surveys.

Survey results – up to and including 1 April 2022

In the surveys 147,389 people responded to the text messages (Table 1). Of those who responded to the survey:

  • 54% were female, and 46% were male
  • 17% of respondents were Māori, and 8.5% were Pacific peoples.

Of the responses received for all campaigns (Table 2):

  • 58,608 (40%) reported that they experienced at least one adverse event/reaction to the vaccine
  • 88,781 (60%) reported that they did not experience an adverse event.

A similar number of people reported a reaction after the booster dose and after the second dose. Compared to dose 1, more people reported a reaction after dose 2 and after the booster (Table 2).

After all doses, the proportion of people who reported an adverse event was similar for each ethnic group (Figure 1 and Table 3).

The most frequently reported adverse events were injection site reaction, headache, muscle and body aches, joint pain, and chills (Figure 2 and Table 4). These are common adverse reactions linked to the immune response following immunisation.

Ten percent of people who participated in the booster campaign reported missing work or other daily activities, the majority were reported to have missed 1 day or less. One percent of people visited a doctor after vaccination (Figure 3).

The profile of reported events to PVSC for the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine is similar to that reported in clinical trials and from post-marketing surveillance in New Zealand and overseas. Based on this data, we have not identified any new safety concerns.

Table 1: Summary of text message responses, up to and including 1 April 2022

Campaign Number of people sent text messages Number of people who responded to the text messages Percentage of people who responded
Dose 1 and 2 94,416 50,258 53%
Booster 386,820 97,131 25%

Table 2: Responses by vaccine dose and adverse event, up to and including 1 April 2022

Dose Did not report an adverse event Reported at least one adverse event
Number % Number %
Dose 1 15,029 66% 7,684 34%
Dose 2 16,021 58% 11,524 42%
Booster 57,731 59% 39,400 41%
Total 88,781 60% 58,608 40%

Figure 1: Percentagea of people that reported an adverse event, by ethnicity, up to and including 1 April 2022

Table 3: Number and percentage of people that reported an adverse event, by ethnicity, up to and including 1 April 2022

Ethnicity Dose 1 Dose 2 Booster
Number % Number % Number %
Māori 754 36% 837 41% 8,615 40%
Pacific peoples 313 31% 411 40% 4,076 39%
Asian 935 26% 1,677 40% 5,840 44%
European or other 5,627 36% 8,533 43% 19,448 41%
Unknown 56 30% 66 34% 1,427 35%

Note:

  1. Percentage for each dose number and ethnicity group is calculated based on the number of people that participated in those groups.

Figure 2: Most frequently reporteda adverse events, percentageb by dose, up to and including 1 April 2022

Table 4: Most frequently reporteda adverse events, number and percentageb by dose, up to and including 1 April 2022

Adverse event Dose 1 Dose 2 Booster
Number % Number % Number %
Injection site reaction (pain, redness, swelling, itching at or near the injection site) 3,310 14.6% 5,057 18.4% 15,197 16.0%
Headache, muscle/body aches, joint aches/pain, or chills (shivering and feeling cold) 2,503 11.0% 4,936 17.9% 15,452 16.0%
Fatigue or tiredness 2,567 11.3% 4,946 18.0% 15,232 16.0%
Fever/high temperature 377 1.7% 1,202 4.4% 4,740 5.0%
Stomach symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain) 496 2.2% 872 3.2% 2,561 3.0%
Rash (not at injection site) 88 0.4% 107 0.4% 375 0.4%

Notes:

  1. PVSC survey answers may come from one person, but that person may report more than one adverse event. As with any adverse event reports, not all symptoms reported may be caused by the vaccine; they may be coincidental and due to other causes.
  2. For the percentage calculations, the numerator is the number of times the reaction was reported by dose, and the denominator is the total number of participants by dose.

Figure 3: People that visited a doctora after vaccination, up to and including 1 April 2022

Less than 1 in 100 people (0.4%) reported visiting a doctor in the days after the first dose Less than 1 in 100 people (0.6%) reported visiting a doctor in the days after the second dose Less than 1 in 100 people (0.7%) reported visiting a doctor in the days after the booster dose
0.4% of people 0.6% of people 0.7% of people

Note:

  1. The PVSC survey does not specifically ask for the reason why the person accessed medical care in the days following vaccination. Therefore, medical attendance reported may or may not be related to any adverse events reported.
Hide menus
Show menus
0 1 2 4 5 6 7 9 [ /