With more people becoming eligible for the COVID vaccine each day, many are wondering what to expect. The majority of people who’ve received the vaccine have reported minor side effects, but it’s best to be prepared. Let’s take a look at how to get ready for the vaccine, what to expect the day of, and how to handle any unpleasant symptoms that might pop up after it’s been administered.

Before Your Appointment

Because appointment times are still sparse in many areas, you may need to book what you can get rather than hunting for a time that aligns perfectly with your schedule. Many vaccine sites are booking out weeks (and even months) in advance, so if you find an appointment time you can work with, it’s best to book it — even if it’s farther from home than you’d prefer. 

Should You Take Medication Before Your Shot?

Like any vaccine, there will be minor pain when the COVID shot is administered. In clinical trials, recipients also reported sore arms and headaches following their vaccinations. However, it’s not recommended for individuals to take pain relievers before receiving their doses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against doing so because the possible drug interactions remain unknown at this time. If you do take a daily medication, consult with your primary care physician before receiving your vaccination to address any questions you may have regarding usage.

Will a Sick Day Be Necessary?

Maybe, but don’t plan one in advance. More than 80% of the clinical trials’ recipients reported some side effects — most commonly, headache, fever, and fatigue. That said, it could be a day or two before these symptoms begin, and they’re more likely to occur after your second dose; so, you may also feel perfectly fine after receiving your vaccine. If you can find an appointment before your planned day off, go ahead and book it, but it’s probably not necessary to plan on being out in advance.

Does Water Really Reduce Side Effects?

Keeping hydrated is always a good idea, but despite rumors, medical experts say it likely won’t be a make or break aspect in how your body reacts to your vaccination. Being dehydrated, however, can certainly make you feel more rundown and increase your likelihood of fainting immediately after receiving the vaccine. So go ahead and drink your water, but there’s no need to overindulge.

After Your Vaccination

You may experience side effects in the days following your vaccine, particularly if you’re receiving your second dose of a two-part series, like Moderna or Pfizer. The most commonly reported side effects from the COVID vaccine include:

  • Arm pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea

The Bottom Line

Side effects are normal as your body develops antibodies to fight the virus. You can manage your discomfort with over-the-counter pain medication as needed. Contact your physician if the pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site becomes worse after 24 hours or if your symptoms persist for more than a few days.

Have you received your COVID shot? If so, did you experience any side effects from the vaccine? We want to hear about your experiences!