What to Expect After Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine

There's no question- COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. However, you may have heard of some people saying they feel "sick" after getting their second dose. It's important to remember the vaccines do not contain any part of the COVID-19 virus. While it's possible you may have some side effects from the vaccine, these are normal signs that your body is building protection, and they should go away in a few days. Here's what else to expect after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

Possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

On the arm where you got the shot:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Helpful tips to reduce pain

Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.

To reduce pain in your arm where you got the shot:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
  • Use or exercise your arm.

To reduce discomfort from fever:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress lightly.

When to call the doctor:

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:

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

Other important things to remember:

  • Side effects can affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
  • With both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine), you will need 2 shots in order to get the most protection. You should get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it.
  • You will only need 1 shot of the viral vector COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots may not protect you until about 2 weeks after your second shot. For COVID-19 vaccines that require 1 shot, it takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for your body to build protection.

As more vaccines become available to the general public, it's important to know when you're considered fully vaccinated, what you can and can't do after you become fully vaccinated, and how to continue to protect others who might not have gotten vaccinated yet. Until we know more about those questions, everyone — even people who’ve had their vaccines — should continue taking basic prevention steps when recommended.

Want to learn more? Visit our article on what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, click here.

Source: CDC