Common Vaccine Side Effects Versus A Reaction To A Vaccine
Just like how most medications have side effects, vaccines also have varying levels of side effects, Hepfer said. For the most part, vaccine side effects are minor and temporary. Unless your health care provider recommends against a vaccine for you or your child for a health reason, the side effects are not big enough to warrant skipping a vaccine.
The most common side effects from a vaccination are pain, swelling and redness at the injection site. You or your children may also notice a mild fever as well as general soreness on the arm or leg of the injection.
There is a difference between a common side effect and an allergic reaction to a vaccination, Hepfer said. An allergic reaction may be a rash, difficulty breathing or even something more severe. If that happens, you need to contact your health care provider. However, an elevated temperature is generally nothing to be concerned about.
Hepfer notes an elevated temperature after a vaccination is actually a good thing. It means your immune response is working.
Q: Will The Vaccines Work Against The New Variants That Have Emerged Around The World
The vaccines appear to be effective against a new variant that originated in Britain and is quickly becoming dominant in the United States. But some variants of the coronavirus, particularly one first identified in South Africa and one in Brazil, appear to be more adept at dodging antibodies in vaccinated people.
While that sounds worrisome, theres reason to be hopeful. Vaccinated people exposed to a more resistant variant still appear to be protected against serious illness. And scientists have a clear enough understanding of the variants that they already are working on developing booster shots that will target the variants. The variants identified in South Africa and Brazil are not yet widespread in the United States.
People who are vaccinated should still wear masks in public and comply with public health guidelines, but you shouldnt live in fear of variants, said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. If youre vaccinated, you should feel pretty confident about how protected you are, said Dr. Hotez. Its unlikely youll ever go to a hospital or an I.C.U. with Covid-19. In time youre going to see a recommendation for a booster.
I hope these answers will reassure you about your own vaccine experience. You can find a more complete list of questions and answers in our special vaccine tool Answers to All Your Questions About Getting Vaccinated Against Covid-19.
Common Medications May Affect Immune Response To Covid
Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can work with or against the immune system to fight infection.
Drugs frequently used for pain and fever management may affect immune response to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 in either a negative or positive way depending on the medication, according to a new study led by scientists at the University of Sydneys Faculty of Medicine and Health.
The results, published March 1 in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, were based on a large clinical review of medical database reports that described the effects of paracetamol , nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and opioidanalgesics such a morphine and codeine on the bodys immune system.
Our review shows some of the common pain and fever medications may work with the immune system to fight infection, whereas others work against it and increase the risk of contracting or responding badly to infectious diseases, says the lead author, Christina Abdel-Shaheed, PhD, with the faculty of medicine and health at Sydneys School of Public Health.
When looking at antipyretics as a group, however, these medications can reduce the desirable immune response when taken for post-vaccination relief.
The study authors also highlighted that the anti-inflammatory medicine indomethacin may reduce viral replication in COVID-19, but large-scale human trials are needed.
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Reactogenicity Of Current Covid
The urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines posed an unprecedented dilemmathe need to expedite preclinical and clinical development of vaccines without jeopardizing safety and efficacy evaluation. Table summarizes available reactogenicity data for the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use.
Table 2 Reactogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines approved by WHO for emergency use.
Caution Urged During The Pandemic
Pain researcher Dr Christina Abdel-Shaheed, from Sydney Musculoskeletal Health, said the relationships uncovered with infectious diseases highlighted the need for rigorous clinical trials.
Our review shows some of the common pain and fever medications may work with the immune system to fight infection, whereas others work against it and increase the risk of contracting or responding badly to infectious diseases, Dr Abdel-Shaheed said.
Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen before or immediately after vaccination for example for COVID-19 to try to prevent mild fever or headache is not recommended, because this could reduce the bodys desirable immune response to the vaccine.
For chickenpox, use of ibuprofen is not recommended as it might increase the risk of secondary bacterial skin infections.
Dr Justin Beardsley, infectious disease specialist at Westmead Hospital and researcher with Sydney Institute for Infectious Diseases, said an important finding of this review during the pandemic was that: morphine one of the most commonly used opioid analgesics in post-surgical and critical care suppresses key innate immunity cells, thereby increasing the risk of infection.
He highlighted: This is particularly the case with cancer patients, who are already vulnerable to COVID-19.
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Effect Of Analgesic And Antipyretic Medicines On Immune Responses To Vaccination
Although analgesics and antipyretics are not indicated for prophylactic use, they can be administered at the time of vaccination to prevent side effects or therapeutically following side-effect onset. A limited number of studies have evaluated the effect of analgesics/antipyretics on immunogenicity,,,,. However, these studies have been limited to either specific age groups of the population or specific vaccines. As COVID-19 vaccination is being applied universally and eventually to all age groups, we undertook a more expansive review of the literature on acetaminophen and NSAIDs and their effects on vaccination.
How To Treat Vaccine Side Effects
- Fever/chills/muscle pain
If you have a fever but it’s not bothering you much, you don’t have to do anything to treat it, the doctors said. If you’re very uncomfortable, go ahead and take acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen .
“I felt pretty bad the day after with chills and muscle aches, and I can’t imagine not taking Tylenol or Motrin that day, Creech said. Also drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly, the CDC advises.
Blumberg had just a mild headache after his second dose, but he said some of his colleagues who also got the vaccine have described pounding headaches that were more like migraines. Bright lights bothered them. They just wanted to stay in a dark room, he said.
Again, pain relievers should help, he said, and get plenty of rest.
If you’re tired, don’t feel bad about spending the day in bed, Creech said. I’ll tell you, the more we vaccinate, the more we realize fatigue is a real part of this, he said.
A nap can help you feel better, he said, as can a brisk walk or other exercise. And if you’re one of those people who don’t like to sit still, you won’t hurt yourself if you decide to push through the fatigue, he said.
Fortunately, in most people, the tiredness lasts for only a day or two.
- Pain, swelling or a delayed rash at the injection site
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- A lump in your armpit
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How Taking Painkillers Can Affect The Covid Vaccines
Can I take painkillers before or after a COVID-19 vaccine?
It’s best to avoid them, unless you routinely take them for a medical condition. Although the evidence is limited, some painkillers might interfere with the very thing the vaccine is trying to do: generate a strong immune system response.
Vaccines work by tricking the body into thinking it has a virus and mounting a defense against it. That may cause arm soreness, fever, headache, muscle aches or other temporary symptoms of inflammation that can be part of that reaction.
These symptoms mean your immune system is revving up and the vaccine is working, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a recent news briefing.
Certain painkillers that target inflammation, including ibuprofen might curb the immune response. A study on mice in the Journal of Virology found these drugs might lower production of antibodies helpful substances that block the virus from infecting cells.
If you’re already taking one of those medications for a health condition, you should not stop before you get the vaccine at least not without asking your doctor, said Jonathan Watanabe, a pharmacist at the University of California, Irvine.
If you do need one, acetaminophen is safer because it doesnt alter your immune response, he added.
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Is Acetaminophen Or Ibuprofen Better Post
When post-vaccine arm soreness hits, you may find yourself staring into the abyss of your medicine cabinet, wondering if it’s better to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. “Acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory, so itâs the one I would reach for first,” Dr. Bhuyan says. “But if you only have ibuprofen, that is fine to take, too.”
Different people respond differently to certain medications, too â so think about what tends to work well for your body and symptoms. “In some patients, acetaminophen seems to reduce pain from things like body aches better, while other patients feel like ibuprofen is more effective,” Dr. Bhuyan explains. So really, it just depends on you and what you’ve got in your medicine cabinet.
TL DR? “If you need it, take it,” Dr. Parikh says.
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Does Acetaminophen Impact The Immune Response
Often, people elect to take an over-the-counter pain reliever, or give one to their children, prior to vaccines to help with the side effects. Remember a vaccination can cause injection site soreness and elevated temperature afterwards, Hepfer said. Acetaminophen can both relieve pain and reduce fever, but always speak with your pediatrician first to review dosage.
The discussion about acetaminophens impact on immunity comes with the fever-reducing effect. Typically, fevers are a sign your body is working to kill a virus. As a result, many people worry an over-the-counter drug that reduces fevers will impact how well your body fights the viral agents from a vaccine.
Hepfer said the jury is still out on this. While the administration of acetaminophen has been commonplace after childhood immunizations for fever and/or pain at the injection site, several newer studies question whether acetaminophen makes vaccines slightly less effective, Hepfer said. While acetaminophen is not contraindicated, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that some pediatricians are no longer recommending it for prophylactic use against vaccine side effects.
Kids And Tylenol Studies
In the first study, from 2009, researchers looked at how Tylenol affected the immune systems of infants receiving their childhood vaccines. Some children were given Tylenol before getting their shots, while others were not. When the children had their antibodies tested antibodies are the proteins in our blood that help us develop long-lasting immunity those who were given Tylenol beforehand had lower antibody levels.
The same researchers released a follow-up study in 2013. They followed these children until they finished receiving all of the necessary boosters for their vaccines. The same children continued to take or not take Tylenol before each of their booster shots, just as they had before. This time, though, researchers found that the antibody levels were similar for all children regardless of whether they took Tylenol. In other words, they all developed long-term immunity from the vaccines.
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Can I Take Tylenol Or Advil After The Covid
Yes, its perfectly fine to take Tylenol or Advil after the COVID-19 vaccine. This is recommended by experts because it can help ease the side effects you might experience. The reactions you might have after the shot are a sign your immune system has already started responding to the vaccine, so taking Tylenol or Advil shouldnt interfere with it.
A Tip To Make Getting A Shot Easier
Getting immunized can be a point of anxiety for both adults and children. Luckily, Hepfer gave some simple advice applicable to both adults and children to overcome the fear. She recommends distraction as well as talking with the child and preparing them for what to expect in advance. If a child is getting a shot, hold them in a comforting way or give them a toy or distraction item, Hepfer said. For older children, she recommends a game on your phone or listening to music. Do not underestimate the power of distraction.
This story was originally published on August 20, 2019 and has been updated for accuracy.
Mary Leigh Meyer
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Should You Take Otc Medications Before Getting The Vaccine
Taking OTC pain medications ahead of your shot to try and decrease symptoms is not recommended by the CDC, because it’s not clear how that could affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.
The concern is that pre-treating with pain medications that reduce fevers and inflammation could dampen your immune system’s response to the vaccine.
That’s because your immune system responds to vaccines through a process called “controlled inflammation,” Dr. Colleen Kelley, an associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, told USA Today in January.
Covid messenger RNA vaccines work by giving cells genetic material that tells them how to make a non-infectious piece of the virus. The immune system then creates antibodies against it which is controlled inflammation and can remember how to trigger an immune response if exposed to the virus in the future.
But OTC pain-relieving medications “reduce the production of inflammatory mediators,” Kelley said. That’s why it’s important to wait until after you’ve gotten the vaccine to take pain medication.
Research on children has shown that those who take acetaminophen before getting vaccines have a lower immune response than those who didn’t. And a recent study out of Yale found that giving mice nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs before being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 led to fewer protective antibodies from the virus.
At The Vaccination Site
Before you arrive, contact the site where you will be vaccinated or review your appointment confirmation email for details about what identification you may need to bring to your vaccination appointment.
- When getting a vaccine, you or your child and your healthcare provider will need to wear masks that cover your nose and mouth. Stay 6 feet away from others while inside and in lines. Learn more about protecting yourself when going to get your COVID-19 vaccine.
- You should receive a paper or electronic version of a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you or your child received. Each approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. Learn more about different COVID-19 vaccines.
- After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, you or your child should be monitored on site for at least 15 minutes. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.
- Ask your vaccination provider about getting started with v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Parents and guardians can enroll children or dependents in v-safe and complete health check-ins on their behalf after COVID-19 vaccination. Register or v-safe. Learn more about v-safe.
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Common Questions About Covid
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is an important tool, along with wearing a cloth mask, socially distancing and good hand hygiene, to help stop the ongoing pandemic. As wide-scale vaccination efforts continue, many people have questions about the vaccines. Mayo Clinic’s Vaccination and Distribution Workgroup has answered some of the most common questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
If I am vaccinated and develop side effects should I get tested?While many people do not have reactions after vaccination, it is normal if you do. It does not mean you have the COVID-19 infection. If you have a reaction, take some time to rest and allow your body to recover.These reactions should not keep you from going to work or doing other activities. However, stay home if you have a fever. It is not necessary to have a COVID-19 test or to quarantine.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?For the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, you may experience some mild side effects, primarily injection site pain, fatigue, and chills. These symptoms got better without medical care, and usually within 24 to 48 hours.
Second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should still be given, even if you had one of these reactions after the first dose.
What is known is that COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection.
Can Antipyretics/analgesics Like Ibuprofen Suppress The Immune Response To The Covid
The appropriate use of antipyretics/analgesics, like ibuprofen, is recommended by public health authorities to help relieve symptoms that may be experienced following vaccination.1,2 This is consistent with the fact that in the late-stage COVID-19 vaccine studies, participants were allowed to use antipyretics/analgesics to treat symptoms.3-6
People should carefully read and follow the post-vaccination information or instructions provided to them at the time of vaccination, including any recommendations about the use of ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever symptoms that some people might experience following a COVID-19 vaccine. If there are any questions, a doctor or pharmacist should be consulted for further advice.
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