Illustration for article titled Here Are the Side Effects to Expect from Your COVID Vaccine (and How to Deal With Them)

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You’ve most likely heard concerning the COVID vaccines’ unintended effects, and by now are nicely conscious that there isn’t any “normal” response to the pictures—everybody handles them in another way. Nonetheless, it’s higher to enter your appointment(s) armed with as a lot information as doable—particularly if it means stopping or decreasing disagreeable unintended effects. Right here’s what to learn about coping with the COVID-19 vaccines’ unintended effects each earlier than and after your shot.

How frequent are COVID-19 vaccine unintended effects?

Earlier than we go any additional, we must always observe that experiencing unintended effects isn’t particular to the COVID vaccine: They will occur after a flu shot or different vaccination, and are a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine. Particularly, within the case of the COVID vaccine, that “your immune system is instructing your physique to react in sure methods: it will increase blood stream so extra immune cells can flow into, and it raises your physique temperature as a way to kill the virus,” the World Health Organization (WHO) explains.

So, when somebody experiences mild-to-moderate unintended effects following the COVID vaccine, it’s not unusual for his or her docs or relations to reassure them that not solely is that this regular, it’s additionally a good factor. It doesn’t imply that the vaccine is harmful—it means that it’s doing its job.

However does that imply individuals who don’t expertise unintended effects must be fearful that their shot didn’t take? Properly, no. “Experiencing no unintended effects doesn’t imply the vaccine is ineffective,” the WHO explains. “It means all people responds in another way.” It additionally implies that as nice as it could be to have the ability to stop or management our COVID vaccine unintended effects, our physique’s going to do its factor.

There are, nonetheless, methods to cut back the discomfort of the unintended effects (which we’ll get to in a minute), however Dr. Joel Kammeyer, an infectious illness specialist and assistant professor at The College of Toledo Faculty of Medication and Life Sciences, needs us to place issues in perspective after we take into consideration our possibilities of experiencing some sort of post-vaccination ache or discomfort.

“We must always acknowledge that greater than 80% of study participants skilled unintended effects within the vaccine trials, most of which have been fatigue and injection website reactions,” he tells Lifehacker. “Unintended effects are the norm—not the exception.”

What are the potential unintended effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In accordance with the CDC, the most commonly reported side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines resolve after a number of days, and embrace:

  • Swelling, redness and ache at injection website
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle ache
  • Chills
  • Nausea

Although extraordinarily uncommon, some folks do have a severe allergic reaction—often known as anaphylaxis—to the COVID vaccine. If this seems to be the case, name 911 and search rapid medical consideration.

Making ready for the vaccine

The one factor vaccinated folks get pleasure from greater than recounting their inoculation expertise—together with any unintended effects—is giving yet-to-be vaccinated people recommendation on stopping or coping with unintended effects. However with so many pointers floating round, how are you aware which to hearken to and which to disregard?

Sure, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) does have some guidance on this—some being the operative phrase—leaving lingering questions what we truly can management when it comes to COVID vaccine unintended effects. Right here’s what we all know thus far, courtesy of the CDC and two infectious illness specialists.

Is it OK to take ache relievers earlier than your appointment?

One factor the CDC is evident about is that we must always avoid over-the-counter medicines—like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, and antihistamines—earlier than getting vaccinated for the aim of making an attempt to stop vaccine-related unintended effects, together with allergic reactions. The reasoning is that at this level, we’re nonetheless unsure how these medicines would possibly have an effect on the vaccine’s effectiveness. Examine along with your physician if you happen to take any of those medicines as a part of a routine.

Does being super-hydrated stop unintended effects?

As people, we are able to really feel helpless fairly simply—particularly in health-related conditions. So when unsure, we begin doling out recommendation to ourselves or others, which usually features a suggestion to remain hydrated. Our quest for methods to stop unintended effects from the COVID-19 vaccine is not any exception.

In actual fact, the EMT who gave me my second dose of the vaccine instructed me to drink as a lot water as I probably can “with out being uncomfortable” to cut back the severity of any unintended effects. Whereas it is smart being dehydrated whereas experiencing unintended effects would possibly make somebody really feel worse, is pumping ourselves with water earlier than and after our vaccine going to offer us with some sort of liquid safety defend? Kammeyer shouldn’t be satisfied.

“Staying well-hydrated is a good suggestion on the whole, however that is unlikely to stop unintended effects,” he says. “Sustaining hydration definitely doesn’t damage something, however I might haven’t any expectation that unintended effects might be prevented or restricted by staying hydrated.”

The CDC does mention that having a beverage or snack might assist stop fainting after receiving a vaccine, however once more we’re speaking a couple of regular stage of hydration (so no have to go overboard).

Is there an excellent time to schedule your appointment?

Many of the nation isn’t but in a spot the place we are able to schedule COVID vaccines like every other medical appointment, selecting a time and day that works finest for us. Anybody who has ever gone by way of the web reserving course of is aware of how rapidly these appointments go, and the way little alternative you normally have of their timing.

However let’s say you did have the choice. Is there a sure time of day when folks expertise fewer unintended effects from the vaccine? Dr. Keith Armitage, an infectious illness specialist at College Hospitals in Cleveland, the place he’s additionally the medical director of the Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, says that he’s “not conscious of any time of day that may be advantageous.”

Equally, Kammeyer says that “nothing could be gained” by scheduling your vaccine appointment at a sure time of day in an try to arrange for or reduce the unintended effects. “We all know from the unique medical trials for the vaccines that many unintended effects happen inside 24 hours, however others might not happen for so long as every week,” he explains.

Having mentioned that, if you happen to’re involved that you simply’ll really feel fatigued after the dose, you could possibly at all times schedule the shot for the top of the day, so that you received’t have to fret about having to return to work. And talking of which…

Must you organize to take a sick day the day after your appointment(s)?

Recognizing that not everybody has the privilege of having the ability to take a paid sick day to take care of potential unintended effects from a vaccine (or, ever), is doing so a good suggestion for these with that possibility?

In accordance with Armitage, a big variety of folks don’t really feel like working after their second dose of both the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. In actual fact, he says that it’s frequent for these within the medical career to schedule their vaccine earlier than a time without work. “About one-third of individuals get a fever, and perhaps half of these don’t really feel like working, so it’s affordable to plan [to take a sick day],” Armitage explains.

Coping with unintended effects after getting vaccinated

In order that’s what we are able to (and might’t) do to stop unintended effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. However what about if you happen to’re a part of the 80% of people who find themselves experiencing some sort of ache or discomfort? Right here’s deal with a number of the most ceaselessly reported.

Arm ache and soreness

As one of the crucial frequent unintended effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s possible you’ll be questioning what you are able to do to assist cut back ache or soreness within the arm that obtained the shot. The CDC recommends two issues:

  1. Making use of a clear, cool, moist washcloth over the realm
  2. Utilizing or exercising your arm

However what about massaging your arm on the injection website? This has been advised as a option to take care of ache from other forms of vaccines, however might it assist with this one? Right here’s Kammeyer’s take:

There are not any official suggestions relating to massaging the injection website to cut back arm ache. This was not studied within the vaccine trials, however it is extremely unlikely that massaging the injection website would make a distinction to the efficacy of the vaccine. Transferring the arm ceaselessly after receiving the injection could also be extra useful than therapeutic massage, however therapeutic massage is unlikely to trigger hurt. If it helps, I might not object.


If you find yourself with a fever after your COVID vaccine, the CDC recommends consuming loads of fluids, and “costume[ing] calmly.” So does that imply being exceptionally hydrated earlier than your vaccine might have prevented this aspect impact?

Armitage doesn’t assume so, noting that it’s simply normal when treating fever. “Anytime you may have an sickness with any form of fever, it’s good to remain hydrated, as a result of fever can improve your lack of fluids,” he explains. “I can’t consider every other motive why fluids would assist [as a way to prevent vaccine side effects.]”


There’s quite a bit happening in your physique post-vaccination, so it’s not shocking that fatigue is one other frequent aspect impact. However is it higher to hearken to your physique and sleep whenever you wish to, or get by way of the remainder of the day and follow your traditional sleep schedule? That’s as much as you.

“The fatigue will come and go regardless,” Kammeyer explains. “The right suggestion right here could be individual-dependent. Naps are definitely advantageous, and pushing by way of and sustaining a typical sleep routine can be advantageous—no matter works for the person. In a number of days, the fatigue can be gone no matter what you do.”

However what concerning the typical knowledge that resting after we’re not feeling nicely is critical as a way to give your physique the possibility to heal? Does that imply that if somebody is feeling fatigued after their vaccine they usually don’t relaxation once they’re drained, it might make the vaccine much less efficient?

Nope. In accordance with Armitage, persevering with about your day with no nap is not going to lower vaccine responsiveness, or pose a menace to an individual’s general well being. “There isn’t a hurt in pushing by way of, if that’s what folks wish to do,” he explains. “There isn’t a long-term draw back—though folks might really feel extra drained within the short-term.”


Whereas we’re as regards to unintended effects, this looks like a superb time to say that if you happen to develop a brand new lump or tenderness underneath your arm, close to your armpit, or in your neck after receiving the COVID vaccine, there’s no have to panic. It’s probably a swollen lymph node, and one other method for our our bodies to tell us that it’s on the point of struggle off what it perceives as SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC reports that 11.6% of vaccine recipients skilled swollen lymph nodes after their first COVID vaccine dose, and 16% after their second, noting that normally, swelling appeared between two and 4 days after vaccination. Physicians have noticed that the lumps kind on the identical aspect of the physique the place an individual obtained their shot.

“It’s a standard incidence whereas your physique is constructing an immune response to struggle the virus,” Dr. Holly Marshall, division chief of Breast Imaging at College Hospital Cleveland Medical Heart explains in a statement. “The swelling could also be an indication that the physique is making antibodies in response to the vaccine as supposed.”

Is it secure to take ache relievers, and if that’s the case, what form?

Sure, it’s secure to take ache relievers to take care of arm ache, fever, muscle aches and different unintended effects—however there’s some nuance. In accordance with the CDC, it’s fine to take over-the-counter medicines—like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines—to assist handle unintended effects, offered “you don’t have any different medical causes that stop you from taking these medicines usually.” That very same paragraph additionally contains the standard “discuss to your physician” language relating to taking any of the OTC medicines for vaccine unintended effects, which is a good suggestion when you’ve got any questions.

Whereas the CDC provides the inexperienced gentle to take ibuprofen (e.g. Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), or aspirin (e.g. Bayer) for vaccine unintended effects, many individuals have been instructed by their docs—or the individual administering their vaccine—to stay with Tylenol.

You could have additionally seen headlines over the past few months indicating that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) after receiving the vaccine might dampen the response of an individual’s immune system. (Each ibuprofen and aspirin are NSAIDs.) So does that imply no Advil, in spite of everything?

Most of these information tales have been reporting on a current research printed within the Journal of Virology that discovered that utilizing NSAIDs to deal with COVID-19 might dampen the inflammatory response and manufacturing of protecting antibodies in mice. Although the authors observe that extra analysis must be carried out as a way to decide whether or not the identical response might happen in people, their findings “elevate the likelihood that NSAIDs might alter the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.” However once more: that is early analysis simply carried out in mice thus far.

In accordance with Armitage, individuals who expertise unintended effects following their second dose of one of many mRNA vaccines (i.e. Pfizer or Moderna) can safely take NSAIDs or acetaminophen.