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Vaccine's second dose may spark sick leave uptick, expert says

THL reports that 210,194 people in Finland (3.8% of the population) had received coronavirus vaccinations as of Monday.

Vivan Dahl rokottaa Liisa Lankilaa
A woman receives a coronavirus vaccination. Image: Kalle Niskala / Yle
Yle News

As coronavirus vaccinations roll out to younger, working-age populations, there may be an increase in the number of short-term sick leaves in the country, according to infection specialist Marko Rahkonen.

But he emphasised that temporary reactions of the body's defense system are nothing to be feared and completely normal.

"A good vaccine creates a good response. Especially when the [two] vaccinations were administered within three to four weeks of each other reactions were more intense. There can be pain around the injection site the first day or two, with some people experiencing pain in the armpit or shoulder. Fever, joint-, head- and muscle pain could also last for one or two days," Rahkonen explained.

He said reactions to second jabs among working-age people may prompt an increase in sick leave, particularly when considering that such symptoms prevent people from going to work or school in the age of Covid.

However, Rahkonen noted that if an individual who has been vaccinated experiences respiratory symptoms, like a sore throat, cough or excessive mucous--and if the symptoms persist for several days--it may be a question of a coronavirus infection, despite the jab.

Such a scenario is possible because the vaccine doesn't provide immediate immunity, he explained.

"An infection is still possible because while the first dose provides good protection, nearly 90 percent, against the coronavirus, it still takes one to two weeks for that protection to develop. If you happen to get exposed immediately after your first jab, you may become ill," Rahkonen said.

According to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), 210,194 people in Finland (3.8% of the population) had received coronavirus vaccinations as of Monday 15 February, 2021.

Find more coronavirus coverage on Yle News' blog here.

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