The FDA committee charged with reviewing the new Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 recently issued an update stating that a small number of trial participants with cosmetic facial fillers experienced a swelling reaction following vaccination. This revelation (and the resulting headlines) has some people concerned about whether they should hold off on getting vaccinated if they've recently received injectables — but medical experts maintain that not only are the side effects exceedingly rare, but they are also minor and easily treated.
Of the 30,000 total participants in the Moderna trial, three reported mild, localised swelling where their filler was injected, according to NBC San Diego. Doctors speculate that the side effect is an immunological response, meaning that it might be proof that the vaccine is working because it is triggering an immune system response. "Swelling is the body's natural response when it ramps up the immune system, which is the underlying goal of any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine," Samuel Lin, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, tells Refinery29.
This type of reaction is also occasionally seen in recipients of flu and shingles vaccines, or in response to fighting off a viral illness. Medical experts say it can be easily resolved with antihistamines or prednisone, a type of oral steroid. Both are common treatments for seasonal allergies and allergic reactions. "If you have a history of allergies, it's a good idea to have an antihistamine like Benadryl on hand so you can take it if you experience any side effect," Dr. Lin says. "If that doesn't help, you should call your doctor so they can monitor any symptoms and make sure there are no complications. Overall, the vaccine is safe to receive, even if you have fillers since the side effects are very mild and can be easily managed with the use of over-the-counter medication."
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on possible allergic reactions and discuss them with a medical professional like you would when getting any other vaccine or medical treatment. Being concerned about vaccine safety is completely normal, but staying informed and listening to the experts is always the way to go.