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Why do younger people have stronger reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine?

82 percent of people under 55 experience discomfort, according to the CDC.

ATLANTA — Their bodies are younger and stronger, but the under 55 crowd is experiencing a stronger and more uncomfortable reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the CDC, about 70% of people over 55 have had some kind of mild reaction to the vaccine, anything from soreness and fatigue to headaches and a fever. It’s more common with people under the age of 55. The CDC says 82% of younger people experience discomfort.

Younger bodies tend to fight harder.

“Younger people have more active immune systems to fight disease than older people,” says Georgia Tech’s Dr. M.G. Finn. “So, in general, a young person will have slightly more secondary symptoms.”

A younger, more robust system will respond to a vaccine with more vigor. Dr. Finn explains that white blood cells multiply at a faster rate to produce antibodies to fight disease.

“You have swollen glands because your body produces more of those cells,” says Dr. Finn. “You feel feverish because the body actually raises temperature to increase activity of cells.”

Dr. Finn points out there have been plenty of cases of younger bodies experiencing no side effects.

“Some older people will have a more uncomfortable effect, and many won’t,” says Dr. Finn. “There’s a lot of variation here.”

The vast majority of the time the reactions have been mild for everyone.

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