Managing Common Vaccine Side Effects

With the emergency use authorization (EUA) of COVID-19 vaccines, many are wondering — and speculating about — what side effects may occur. Rumors have swirled about everything from fatigue and anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions), to Bell’s palsy (temporary facial paralysis) and effects on fertility.

The side effects of authorized COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be similar to side effects of other common vaccines, including yearly flu shots. As always, if you have questions about a specific vaccine, you should always ask your doctor or healthcare provider.

Here are a few tips for managing common vaccine side effects.

Move Your Arm

Many vaccines cause redness and swelling at the injection site. Some people may also experience pain at the injection site and throughout the arm. While this is likely a sign that the vaccine is successfully triggering an immune response, it can be uncomfortable.

Moving your arm can encourage blood flow, which can help reduce stiffness and soreness. Additionally, getting your blood flowing can help the injection spread beyond the injection site.

Drink Plenty of Water or Fluids

Staying hydrated can help reduce the effects of fever, muscle soreness, joint pain/stiffness, and fatigue. As with mild pain and swelling, these side effects can be a sign of an effective immune response.

Plan Ahead

After getting a vaccine (such as a flu shot) some people experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. These side effects usually resolve quickly, but they can interfere with normal activities.

For the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccines that require two doses, clinical trial participants were more likely to experience side effects after the second dose of the vaccine. Make sure you’re prepared in case side effects prevent you from performing your daily activities.

As always, a vaccine’s risks and side effects are intended to be a far better alternative than infection.

Ask Your Healthcare Provider for Tips

Based on your medical history, your doctor or healthcare provider will likely recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help manage pain or fever.

Likewise, you can use traditional methods to relieve localized pain, such as a cold pack on the injection site.

Track Your Symptoms

Make sure to note when you begin to experience certain symptoms. In most cases, your healthcare provider will likely recommend you contact them if symptoms become more sever after 24-48 hours, or if symptoms don’t seem to be going away after several days.

Stay up to Date

Your health is important and vaccines contribute to the advancement of human health. Meridian has enrollment open for vaccine studies nationwide. Participants in these studies may receive investigational vaccines and, in some cases, an FDA-approved vaccine at no cost. Eligible participants may also receive compensation for time and travel. Find a study near you at mcrmed.com/find-study.