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Side effects after COVID-19 vaccination

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COVID-19 vaccination helps protect people from getting severely ill with COVID-19 and side effects are normal. Though not everyone experiences side effects, some people do. Side effects are signs that your body is building protection. Side effects may have a short-term effect on your ability to do daily activities and should go away in a few days. For more information, visit the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention’s Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine.

Common side effects

  • Side effects on the arm where you got the shot include pain, redness and swelling.
  • Side effects throughout the rest of your body include nausea, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills and fever.

How do I get relief from side effects?

For any pain and discomfort experienced after getting vaccinated: 

  • Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin (only for people ages 18 years or older), or antihistamines.
  • To reduce pain and discomfort where the shot is given apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. You can also use or exercise your arm.
  • To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids. 

After a booster shot

Side effects may be more intense after a booster dose than the ones experienced after the primary vaccine series, though most were mild to moderate. Similarly, these side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection and should go away within a few days. Reactions reported after getting booster shots are the same as those after the primary vaccine series. You can also use the same strategies to get relief.

If you have no side effects

Reactions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine can vary from person to person and some people have no side effects at all. Those people still had a strong immune response to the vaccine. It’s important to know that vaccination protects you from severe COVID-19 infection whether or not you experience side effects.

When to call a doctor about a side effect

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that the body is building protection. Side effects can affect you or your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Contact a doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where the shot was given gets worse after 24 hours.
  • If the side effects are worrying or do not seem to be going away after a few days.

Adverse events

Though extremely rare, adverse events after this, or any vaccination, can occur and cause long-term health problems. If an adverse event occurs, seek medical care immediately. To report an adverse event, visit the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).