September 30, 2021

Tips to Mitigate COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

Young woman showing band-aid on upper arm from vaccination.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of the virus. It’s good for you and those around you. 

COVID-19 vaccines are tested, safe, and effective at preventing serious illness. But as with most vaccines, there is a risk of side effects, including:  

  • Soreness at the injection site
  • Redness and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea

These side effects are the body’s expected immune response, and can range from mild to moderate. You’ll be asked to stay in an observation area after getting your shot as a precaution in case you have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.  

It’s important to note that experiencing side effects doesn’t mean you’re contracting COVID-19. The vaccines cannot “give you” the disease. It’s also important to be aware that the vaccine is working within your body to help you develop immunity to COVID-19 even if you don’t have side effects. 

How Can I Minimize the Side Effects From the COVID-19 Vaccine?

While some short-term, generally mild side effects are a small price to pay for keeping you from getting seriously ill, there’s no reason that you must suffer through them. There are steps you can take to address side effects if they occur. After getting your vaccination shot, you can:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers as directed for a headache and other pains (Note: You shouldn’t take these medications before your vaccination to prevent side effects since it’s possible that doing so will weaken your body’s immune response.)
  • Keep moving the arm in which you got the vaccine
  • Apply a clean, cool, damp cloth to the injection site
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help with discomfort from a fever
  • Get plenty of rest to assist your immune system as it creates defenses against the virus

Don’t take a chance with your health.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a vaccination appointment at a location near you. 

Are Side Effects Stronger After the Second Dose of a Two-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine?

Some people report that they experience stronger side effects after getting the second dose of a two-dose vaccine. This may be because the first shot teaches your body how to react to the virus and the second dose triggers your defenses. This isn’t a concern but instead indicates that your immune system is reacting positively. 

But if you don’t have stronger side effects with the second dose — or if you don’t have side effects with either dose — you’re still benefiting from the vaccination. Everyone responds differently to vaccinations for COVID-19 and other illnesses. 

How Long After Getting Vaccinated Is It Before My Body Has Developed Immunity to the Virus?

In most people, it takes approximately two weeks to develop immunity after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. During those two weeks, you should continue to practice disease-prevention measures (maintaining physical distance from non-family members, wearing a mask when appropriate, etc.). 

And even after you’ve developed immunity, there will still be scenarios in which masking and physical distancing are advised or required. Be sure to educate yourself on requirements and follow them.

When to Call Your Doctor About COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

COVID-19 vaccine side effects tend to resolve on their own fairly quickly. But if the redness or tenderness at your injection site gets worse after 24 hours, or if you feel like your side effects aren’t going away after a few days, contact your doctor. 

And if, at any point, you believe you’re having a serious reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine or any vaccine, seek immediate medical attention or call 911. 

Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are free and accessible at many sites around the country. This includes availability through Baptist Health. Get your vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself and the people you care about. 

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Schedule Your Vaccine Appointment
Start Your COVID-19 Test Online
What to Do if You Miss Your Second COVID Vaccine
What to Bring: Considerations for Your Vaccine Appointment

Learn More.