A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Avoid taking pain relievers before you get the COVID-19 vaccine

Oftentimes to avoid pain with vaccinations, you might have taken over-the-counter pain relievers before you get the shot. However, is the COVID-19 vaccine different? Should you just withstand the pain to make sure the vaccine is effective?

Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include pain and swelling where you received the shot in your arm. You also may experience fever, chills, tiredness or a headache, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you have a sore arm after your vaccine, our experts recommend ice, heat and movement to help with the pain.

Dr. Jennifer Strong, Marshfield Clinic Health System family medicine provider, said taking acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen before the vaccination may decrease the immune response. Therefore, she stresses that patients should not take any pain medication before the COVID-19 vaccine.

In management of post-vaccination symptoms, CDC does not recommend taking pain relievers to prevent symptoms of the COVID-19 vaccine because information on how those impact the antibody responses is not available at this time.

Although more research needs to be done, Strong said you can take pain relief medication after getting vaccinated, but recommends to avoid it if possible.

“If treatment is needed after the shot I would encourage non-pharmaceutical methods like heat, ice and rest,” she said. “If a medication is needed, it certainly can be used but it may have an effect on the effectiveness of the vaccine. I chose to take acetaminophen a day after my second shot for some mild symptoms.”

Talk to your provider if you have additional questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. You also can visit marshfieldclinic.org/covidvaccine to find out if you are eligible to sign up for the vaccine.

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