Tips to alleviate common side effects after getting COVID-19 vaccine

Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are normal and expected, and a Maryland doctor advises people to plan to take it easy for a few days in case symptoms develop.

Signs a body is building protection against the coronavirus can include tiredness, headache, chills, fever, muscle pain and nausea, which should only last a day or two.

“Plan to avoid any strenuous activity on those days; not because it would make the vaccine work differently for you — it would just help to minimize any discomfort that you might be feeling,” said Dr. Matthew Laurens, of the University Of Maryland School of Medicine.

Noting that about 50% or more of the people receiving COVID-19 vaccines develop symptoms, Laurens advises people to plan to take a few days off from work or working a couple of half days.

“I wouldn’t want you to take any long road trips, where you would be in discomfort and be in cramped quarters and maybe forced to focus and concentrate for long periods of time,” Laurens said. “Plan to lay low for the next few days after vaccination.”

You can take over-the-counter medicines to ease discomfort, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.”

Those medicines might include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin or antihistamines.

If your arm is sore at the vaccination injection site, Laurens recommends applying a warm or cold wet cloth, whichever is most soothing for you. And, move your arm around.

“Not necessarily go and lift weights, but just move it around. Because the muscle, as it moves, helps to alleviate any stress and helps to move fluid into that area to help it recover more quickly,” Laurens said.

If you tend not to stay well-hydrated be sure to drink plenty of water after your vaccination.

“It’s especially important to maintain hydration if you do develop fever, or signs of chills or high temperature,” he said.

Symptoms are more likely to develop after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine and can develop after becoming fully vaccinated with a one-shot regimen.

It takes a few weeks to be fully protected after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or the single dose needed for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Some people experiencing post-vaccination symptoms of fever or nausea might become concerned that they’re coming down with COVID-19, but Laurens said that vaccination shots do not cause respiratory issues.

“If you do have fever with congestion, cough or difficulty breathing, those are signs of COVID-19, and you need to call your doctor and get tested,” he said.


More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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