The long term control of COVID-19 depends on an effective global vaccination strategy. Protecting healthcare workers (HCWs) from serious infection is critical. Malta, a European country, initiated the vaccination roll-out using Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine targeting HCWs. This study determined vaccination adverse effects (AEs) in this cohort.
An online survey was disseminated to all HCWs via work email (29/3/21 to 9/4/21) to gather AEs regarding pain, redness and swelling at injection site, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle/joint pains, headache, vomiting and diarrhoea severity following each dose (Likert scale). Descriptive, comparative and multiple binary regression analyses were performed.
A response of 30.30% (n=1480) was achieved with the commonest AEs being pain at injection site (88.92% CI 95%:87.21-90.42), mostly mild (51%) and moderate (43%). Fatigue was reported by 72.97% (CI 95%:70.65-75.17), 42% were mild and 41% were moderate. Females reported significantly (p=<0.05 respectively) more pain (OR:1.90), redness (OR:2.49), swelling at injection site (OR:1.33), fever (OR:1.74), chills (OR:2.32), fatigue (OR:2.43), muscle (OR:1.54) and joint pains (OR:2.01), headache (OR:2.07) and vomiting (OR:3.43) when adjusted for age and HCW role. Localised AEs were reported following both vaccine doses unlike systemic AEs that were mostly reported after second doses.
Vaccination benefits outweigh the minor AEs experienced, with females exhibiting a higher susceptibility. The general low vaccination AEs observed within the HCWs cohort is encouraging and should help in allaying vaccine hesitancy among the population.

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