Syncope is the medical term for fainting. It’s a potential side effect of any vaccine, including those used to prevent COVID-19. Fainting is when you pass out due to a lack of oxygen to your brain. It’s most commonly a vaccine side effect among younger adults and teenagers, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, but it can affect anybody.
In most cases, the stress and anxiety of getting a vaccine cause fainting, not the vaccine itself. In very rare cases, a severe allergic reaction to one of the ingredients can cause a drop in blood pressure that leads to loss of consciousness.
Read on to learn more about why some people faint after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and what factors cause people to faint.
According to the
In most cases, fainting is caused by the stress and anxiety of receiving a vaccine. These emotions can trigger a condition called vasovagal syncope. Vasovagal syncope is the most common cause of fainting in general.
Nerves send messages from your brain to your heart and blood vessels to control your heart rate and blood pressure. Vasovagal syncope occurs when these nerves don’t send an appropriate signal, causing a drop in blood pressure and inadequate blood flow to your brain.
Strong emotions, like the fear of receiving a vaccine, and other factors like dehydration or pain can trigger vasovagal syncope.
Of the people who fainted, 62 percent were ages 11 to 18. And 25 percent were ages 19 to 49.
Nearly a quarter of people who experienced fainting or other anxiety-related side effects after receiving the Janssen vaccine reported a history of similar anxiety-related events from other vaccines.
In fewer than
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:
- red, raised, and itchy rash
- swollen eyes and face
- fast heart rate
- low blood pressure
- abdominal cramps
Fear of medical procedures involving needles is called trypanophobia. It’s an extremely common fear. In a
The development of phobias is complex and can be caused by a combination of social, psychological, and physiological causes.
According to the
- Age. Adolescents are at the highest risk of vaccine anxiety.
- Sex. Females are more likely to experience anxiety than males.
- Weight. Lower body weight is associated with a higher risk of fainting.
Vaccine phobia is also influenced by psychological factors, including:
- ability to understand and reason
- prior knowledge of vaccination
- underlying anxiety
- previous experiences
Social factors also play a role, such as:
- trust in healthcare professionals
- perceptions of vaccination among people in a community
- false and misleading news stories
- experiences of friends and family
In the same
- lightheadedness and dizziness (56 percent)
- excessive sweating (31 percent)
- fainting (27 percent)
- nausea and vomiting (25 percent)
- low blood pressure (16 percent)
More than 98 percent of fainting episodes occur within
If you’re with a person who faints, lay the person down with their legs in a raised position until the person is feeling better.
If you develop anxiety-related symptoms after vaccination, you can try taking slow, deep breaths to calm your heart rate. Staying hydrated and having a snack available may also help you ease symptoms such as faintness or lightheadedness.
Many people find it helpful to distract themselves with something such as listening to music, playing a game, or talking.
If your child is nervous about vaccines, you may be able to lower their stress by:
- giving children
2 years and youngersomething sweet before the shot to help reduce pain
- breastfeeding babies to help calm and relax them
- asking the vaccine administrator to use a pain-relieving ointment or spray
- explaining to your child in simple terms what to expect
- bringing comforting things for your child, like their favorite toy or blanket
- distracting your child to pull their attention away from the shot
- having older children take slow, deep breaths
- calming infants with hugs and soothing whispers
It’s common to experience mild side effects after getting a vaccine. If side effects appear, they usually go away after 1 or 2 days.
According to the
- pain around the injection
- muscle pain
Rarely, some people may experience more serious reactions. These can include:
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- myocarditis and pericarditis
Many people find getting a vaccine stressful. This stress can lead to anxiety-related side effects such as fainting, dizziness, or nausea. In very rare cases, vaccines can cause a severe allergic reaction that causes fainting.
For the vast majority of people, vaccines cause no or mild side effects. If you have a history of vaccine-related anxiety, talk with your doctor about ways to manage your anxiety before a vaccine to lower your chances of side effects.