This week CMC began administering COVID-19 vaccines to frontline hospital employees in the first phase of a nationwide effort to protect people from the illness. As we enter Spring in 2021, vaccinations will be well underway for all members of our community. But in the meantime, there is one question on everyone’s minds…
What can I expect after I get the vaccine?
Although there are some people who have not experienced any side effects, there are others who have described symptoms similar to those experienced during a hang-over or the flu. For those that do have side effects, they tend to only last for a few days. The CDC tells us to anticipate that when you have the vaccine it could affect your ability to do day to day activities.
Some people are questioning whether they should get the vaccine either from a fear of side effects or from mistrust due to confusion and disinformation largely distributed through social media.
Dr. Stephen Brady, Director of Cardiology at CMC fully supports the COVID-19 vaccination. “There is always the risk of side effects with any vaccine,” said Dr. Brady. “But I believe in the science. I like the data. And I think it’s important that people get their vaccination when it’s time to protect the people around them that they care about.”
It’s important to understand that you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The side effects you may experience are not COVID related. What they are is a sign that your immune system is working and building defenses against the illness. It will take time for your body to build up that protection and if you receive a vaccine that requires 2 shots, it could take a couple of weeks after your second shot for that immunity to be complete.
So, what are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
When you get the vaccine you may experience soreness and swelling in your arm around the injection area. Throughout the rest of your body you may experience fever, chills, some tiredness and fatigue, muscle pain and headaches, similar to what you might experience after your flu shot.
If you are experiencing any of these side effects there are some things that you can do to make yourself more comfortable. An over the counter medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain. A clean, cool, wet washcloth applied to the site of the injection can help reduce some irritation. If you experience a fever, remember to drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly to make yourself more comfortable.
If you start noticing redness and tenderness around where you received the shot that increases after 24 hours, contact your healthcare provider. Also, seek medical attention if any of your side effects become worrisome or do not seem to be going away after a few days.
Serious allergic reactions are rare and typically occur within the first 15 minutes of injection. If you have known allergies, are prone to allergic reactions, or have medical conditions you feel could make you susceptible to an adverse reaction, consult your family physician prior to receiving a vaccination.