As any qualified medical expert will attest, getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you’re able is clearly the right decision for your health. The vaccines in use have proven to be safe, especially compared to the risks that come with a COVID infection. This isn’t to say, however, that there aren’t any side effects. Fortunately, a bit of planning can help ease any inconvenience or discomfort.
Note that many people experience little to no side effects from vaccination, and there aren’t any clear signs that certain age groups are more likely to experience side effects than others. It’s also worth bearing in mind that side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working. Most side effects come from your body working to attack the COVID-like elements of the vaccine, ensuring your body will be ready if you’re exposed to the actual virus. Here are some ways to deal with vaccine side effect you might encounter.
Perhaps the most common side effect is soreness in your arm at the site of the vaccine. This can occur in any of the vaccines currently available, but it’s perhaps more common in the mRNA vaccines due to how they work. Regardless, apply a cool, clean washcloth to your arm if you experience redness and swelling, which can help reduce the typically minor pain. An ice pack can provide a bit of extra relief if needed. Surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends using or even exercising your arm to relieve pain, so don’t be afraid to be active if you’re feeling up to it.
The fever sometimes seen in those who receive a vaccine is typically mild, and it’s a sign that your immune system has been activated. According to the CDC, the best solution is to drink plenty of fluids, as even a minor fever can cause you to become dehydrated. In fact, drinking ample fluid is a common piece of advice given by doctors and those who’ve received the vaccine, and it’s probably worthwhile even if empirical studies haven’t looked into it. You might also want to dress more lightly and sleep in lighter sheets to prevent excessive sweating.
Fatigue and Generally Feeling Unwell
For some people, the vaccines can cause fatigue and a general feeling of being slightly sick. Again, these effects are typically fairly minor, but, if possible, you might want to keep a light schedule on your vaccine date or dates if possible. This is a great time to enlist the help of your family; asking your partner or children to help out around the home can let you rest in case you feel like heading to bed on the early side. It might be also wise to order food instead of cooking; after all, getting a vaccine is cause for celebration. Still, it’s worth noting that many people, if not most, don’t experience any noticeable fatigue.
The Second Shot is Worse?
When planning for vaccine side effects, it’s worth noting that the CDC points out that the second vaccine shot sometimes leads to more significant side effects than the first. If you experienced mild side effects after the first vaccine, plan for the possibility of greater side effects. If you were free of side effects after the first, bear in mind that the second vaccine might cause some.
Should You Contact Your Doctor?
Some who experience side effects only feel them for a couple of hours, but some people might experience them for a couple of days. According to the CDC, you should contact a doctor if the redness or tenderness at the vaccine site get worse after 24 hours. They also note that you should contact your doctor if you’re worried about the side effects or they don’t seem to be improving after a few days. It’s possible that the symptoms you believe are side effects are actually something else.
Although nobody knows for sure how the COVID-19 pandemic will proceed going forward, one thing is clear: The vaccine is a powerful tool that can save lives and limit the spread of virus significantly. It’s common for people to feel a bit apprehensive or anxious about the vaccines, but it’s worth noting that these vaccines have proven to be incredibly safe, and any side effects will likely go away before you know it. Once you’re fully vaccinated, your risk of a COVID infection drops significantly, and life can start to get a little closer to normal.