A woman experiencing COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
Healthy Living

Tips for Managing COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects at Home

Apr 26 2021
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You may breathe a sigh of relief once you receive your COVID-19 vaccine. However, along with your shot you may — or may not — experience a few side effects. It helps to know what to expect and how to manage any side effects.

As a safety measure, after you receive a shot at the vaccination site, you are to wait seated in an observation area for 15 to 30 minutes. That’s to make sure you don’t have an immediate reaction to the vaccine.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Once you leave the vaccination site, side effects may begin to develop. Side effects typically last from 24 to 48 hours before completely disappearing.

Mild side effects from any type of vaccine is normal and vary from person to person. The absence of side effects is normal, too. You may have one or more of these symptoms, listed here from mild to moderate:

  • Arm soreness or slight swelling
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

What can I do to relieve side effects?

Managing side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine at home is easy.

If you are tired from the vaccine, it’s perfectly fine to sleep. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids after your vaccination to hydrate your system.

If you experience pain or swelling, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help reduce them. However, do not take anything before your shot for the purpose of preventing the side effects.

Here are pain relievers to consider taking after your vaccination if you feel side effects:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen

Some people experience pain, swelling or discomfort in the arm where they were given the needle. To reduce those mild side effects, you can take the following steps:

  • Keep moving and exercising the arm
  • Take an antihistamine (to reduce swelling)
  • Apply a clean washcloth dampened with cool water over the injection site.

Why are side effects stronger with the second dose?

It’s been widely reported that side effects may be stronger after the second dose of the two-dose vaccines. The side effects do not mean you are getting COVID-19, because you cannot get the virus from the vaccine. Additionally, these side effects are still mild, and some people do not experience any side effects with any of the doses.

But there’s a good reason why the second dose may cause these more noticeable side effects. It means that the vaccine has triggered an effect in your immune system. Your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.

Here’s why:

  • The first dose teaches your body how to react to the virus.
  • The second dose is reactogenic, which means your system is reacting as it should to the vaccine.

How long will it take to build immunity after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

Your body will develop immunity within two weeks, so you should still abide by all COVID-19 safety measures until then.

Once you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to safely enjoy some new things like visiting with other people who have also been fully vaccinated indoors without wearing a mask. Check out our full list of things fully vaccinated people can do.

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is an important way to avoid severe illness from this virus. Any concerns over these mild side effects should not dissuade anyone from getting vaccinated.

If you do experience any COVID-19 vaccine reactions outside of what is described above, reach out to your primary care provider.

Stay updated on what Mercy Health is doing related to the COVID-19 vaccine.


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