Aside from the sense of relief you may feel after being vaccinated for COVID-19, there are some common side effects that you may experience. They include pain or swelling around the injection site, as well fever, chills, fatigue, and headache.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some discomfort is normal. However, if redness or tenderness where the shot was administered increases after 24 hours, or any other side effects do not go away after a few days, you should contact your physician.
The CDC recommends getting the second shot even if you have had side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor directs otherwise.
This is very important to understand — side effects do not mean that you have COVID-19. Rather, it is your immune system responding to the vaccine.
Rare Severe Reactions
Severe allergic reactions with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been rare. Most vaccine providers set aside 15-20 minutes after you receive the vaccine to observe any allergic reactions you may experience.
You shouldn’t take painkillers like Advil or Tylenol before you are vaccinated because it is uncertain how they would affect the vaccine’s effectiveness. The CDC says you can take over-the-counter pain medications if you have side effects after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, but recommends you talk to your physician first.
Instead, you can apply a cool, wet washcloth to the injection site, drink plenty of fluids, and wear loose clothing to stay comfortable.
Getting the Second Vaccination
The ideal time frame between the first and second Pfizer vaccines is 21 days. For the Moderna vaccines, it’s 28 days. However, the time frame can be expanded to six weeks between the two vaccinations.
Please note: The Moderna vaccine and a Pfizer vaccine should not be mixed. The CDC says the two vaccines are not interchangeable. Both of your vaccinations should be administered using the same vaccine.
You may receive appointments for both the first and second vaccines when you register with a vaccination site. At some vaccine locations, a second appointment is made for you while you are there to receive your first vaccination, and some organizations schedule your second vaccine at a later date.
If you are having difficulty confirming a second appointment, contact the location that set up your first vaccination for assistance. This may be your local health department or a vaccine provider.
At the time of your vaccination, you should receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card that lists when you received your first dose and when you should receive your second vaccination. You will need to bring the card with you when you return for your second vaccination. If you don’t receive one, do not hesitate to ask about it.
How Long Are You Protected?
The length of time you are protected from COVID-19 is not certain. As new variants appear, it is conceivable that booster shots or new vaccines may be necessary.