Medical experts say side effects common with any vaccine

Northwell Health prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at Long...

Northwell Health prepares to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on Dec. 14 in New Hyde Park. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Medical experts say side effects like a sore arm, fatigue or headache are better than getting COVID-19.

"There don’t appear to be any unexpected side effects," said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University. "They are the side effects you’re used to with other vaccines."

The FDA reviewed side effects for vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health before giving emergency use authorization for them. They caused similar side effects, according to reports by an FDA independent advisory committee:

  • Pain at the injection site on the arm was the most common.
  • Majority of clinical trial subjects had fatigue and headaches.
  • Muscle pain, chills and joint pain were next among common symptoms.

Side effects are "a sign that your body is building an immune response associated with the vaccine, and that’s what you’re trying to do," said Onisis Stefas, chief pharmacy officer at Northwell Health.

Anyone receiving the vaccine will be monitored for 15 minutes, because severe reactions typically occur within that period of time, and New York pharmacists are required to have epinephrine on hand to treat severe allergic reactions, Stefas said.

NY considers rapid testing to allow fans at Buffalo Bills playoffs

Two spectators sit among a group of cardboard cutouts before an...

Two spectators sit among a group of cardboard cutouts before an October NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. Credit: AP/Mark Zaleski

New York may allow 6,700 fans to attend the first Buffalo Bills playoff game next month by using rapid testing beforehand in what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called the first experiment of its kind in the nation.

The testing model could allow the state to begin to reopen major venues and events along with businesses such as restaurants that are under restrictions while health officials race to vaccinate the bulk of the population — a process that some experts now say could last well into the second half of 2021.

"We can’t go through nine months of restaurants shut," Cuomo said. "We have to come up with a smarter way to do this."

The idea of allowing fans into the Bills game is still under review and hasn't been approved by state health officials, who have concerns about "ancillary" events surrounding the game such as large gatherings outside the stadium, Cuomo said. The plan would also include contact tracing after the game, he said, as well as social distancing protocols inside the stadium.

The number of new positives reported today: 1,015 in Nassau, 1,239 in Suffolk, 4,373 in New York City and 11,937 statewide.

The chart below shows the positivity rate in Nassau and Suffolk counties on recent days.

This chart shows what percentage of coronavirus tests were positive...

This chart shows what percentage of coronavirus tests were positive for the virus each day.

Search a map of new cases and view more charts showing the latest local trends in testing, hospitalizations, deaths and more.

Trump threatens COVID relief, Pelosi urges 'sign the bill'

President Donald Trump threatened to torpedo Congress’ massive COVID-19 relief and year-end package, upending a hard-fought compromise by demanding changes fellow Republicans have opposed.

Trump assailed the bipartisan $900 billion bill and broader government funding package in a video he tweeted Tuesday night and suggested he may not sign the legislation. That revives threats of a federal government shutdown.

He called on lawmakers to increase direct payments for most Americans from $600 to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Trump in a Wednesday tweet to "sign the bill to keep government open!"

The final text of the bill was still being prepared by Congress and wasn't expected to be sent for Trump's signature before Thursday or Friday, an aide said.

Pantries struggling to meet food demands

Jean Victor, a manager at the Mary Brennan INN in...

Jean Victor, a manager at the Mary Brennan INN in Hempstead, hands a meal to a guest through a window on Tuesday. Credit: Raychel Brightman

For Long Islanders living below the poverty line, the pandemic created a harsh dichotomy — they are seeking food in record numbers, but are unable to enjoy a hot meal inside with others.

Christmas would typically be among the busiest days of the year for soup kitchens, but with the virus continuing to spread, they're foregoing festivities and will instead distribute grab-and-go meals or deliver groceries for people at home.

The Mary Brennan INN in Hempstead, Long Island's largest soup kitchen, will close on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the first time in its 37-year history because their demand is so high — the facility estimates it will serve 200,000 meals this year, double 2019's — that it could create a public health hazard.

"Out of basic concern for the health and safety of the guests, and the fact that more people means you are more susceptible or more vulnerable to contracting this virus, we decided that it might not be the best idea to have so many people standing outside on those days," Lopez said.

The INN will distribute bags of groceries, sack lunches and ready-to-go full meals to residents through Thursday afternoon.

More to know

The moratorium on evictions of tenants during the pandemic that was set to end Jan. 1 will be extended, Cuomo said Wednesday.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to a still-elevated 803,000, evidence the job market remains under stress.

Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the U.S. with an additional 100 million doses of the vaccine under a new agreement. The drugmakers said they expect to deliver all the doses by July 31.

A $6 million program announced Tuesday will give rent relief to Nassau County residents who experienced economic hardship related to the pandemic by providing direct payments to landlords to cover up to three months of back rent.

The NHL was bound to look different this season, and on Tuesday the league and NHL Players’ Association released their health, safety and travel protocols.

News for you

Richard and Michelle Jacobs' home in Merrick is dressed up...

Richard and Michelle Jacobs' home in Merrick is dressed up for the holidays. Credit: Linda Rosier

A map of holiday displays to see from a distance. While you're home for the holidays, get in your car and head out to look at Long Island's merriest decorations. Newsday has compiled a map that has 16 super-holiday homes across Nassau and Suffolk, in addition to dozens of others.

Helping your kids understand their part. How can you help your children deal with the pandemic? Start by talking it out with them. Watch a replay and read more tips from Newsday Live's recent webinar.

Walk through Bright Lights. The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is hosting Bright Lights, an outdoor adventure where light displays and decorations cover the iconic mansion. It also includes a socially distant visit with Santa.

Cards are making a comeback. Printed Christmas cards are surging in popularity this year as people look to connect with one another while isolated. Greeting card sales are up, consumers say cards are more meaningful than before and some post offices are even running out of stamps. ICYMI: Check out some Long Islanders' holiday cards that captured 2020.

Plus: A reminder where you can go for drive-through light shows and indoor and outdoor winter walk-arounds.

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