The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed throughout the country, and like many other vaccines, you may experience side effects such as fatigue, headaches, chills, joint pain, and fever as your body mounts an immune response. If you're concerned about coping with these side effects, you may be wondering if it's safe to take a pain reliever with the COVID-19 vaccine and if there's any risk that doing so would dampen your body's natural defenses. We asked experts.
Can I Take a Pain Reliever After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Alaina Brinley, MD, PhD, a California-based emergency-room physician who specializes in infectious disease and global health, told POPSUGAR that it's generally considered safe to take fever reducers and pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, after getting a vaccine.
"Some studies looking at antibody generation after vaccination and concurrent antipyretic use have shown a possible blunted antibody response of unknown clinical significance," Dr. Brinley explained. "In regular English, this basically means that some studies found antibody production was reduced, but it wasn't clear if this reduction even mattered for actual immunity or immune system function against a particular bacteria or virus." Dr. Brinley added that the decreased antibody effect doesn't seem to occur after booster doses of vaccines — so it's perfectly fine to take an over-the-counter pain reliever following your second Pfizer or Moderna shot, when side effects are more common.
Amit Kumar, PhD, a researcher and scientist and CEO of Anixa Biosciences, agreed. "Taking an over-the-counter painkiller after vaccination shouldn't be a problem," Dr. Kumar told POPSUGAR. "You can take it the same day as the vaccination if needed."
Is It OK to Take a Pain Reliever Before I Have Side Effects?
Both doctors said you shouldn't pop a pain reliever as a preventative measure prior to getting the vaccine. Instead, Dr. Brinley recommends only taking medicine if you begin to experience symptoms — and if your symptoms are mild, try to avoid taking it at all.
"Ideally, if you can ride out the pain or a fever without the drug, that's best whether you have a vaccine or not," Dr. Kumar said. "Of course, if the fever or pain is too great, then take the drug."
Dr. Brinley, who took ibuprofen and acetaminophen after getting her second dose of the vaccine, emphasized that the most important thing is to get vaccinated. "It's much better to get a vaccine and take a pain reliever with it than to not get the vaccine at all," she said. "If you feel your symptoms are interfering with your ability to function normally, I'd go ahead and take something. [There's] no sense being miserable!"
POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.