It's common to experience side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, with the most common symptoms being soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and joint pain. Fortunately, these side effects are short-lived — and if you're really uncomfortable, doctors have said it's OK to take an over-the-counter pain reliever after getting the shot. But it's also worth trying more natural methods for reducing the side effects.
Uzma Syed, DO, a board-certified infectious-disease specialist and chair of the COVID-19 task force at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in New York, explained that you can get a jump start on easing side effects by staying well-hydrated and getting a full night of sleep before your appointment. In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol after getting vaccinated. "Alcohol can predispose [you] to a state of dehydration, and excessive alcohol intake can lead to a postconsumption hangover, which can exacerbate the postvaccination side effects," Dr. Syed said.
Alaina Brinley, MD, PhD, a California-based emergency-room physician who specializes in infectious disease and global health, explained that a cool compress can help with pain at the injection site. (Just make sure you don't put ice directly against the skin, because it could cause frostbite.) She added that things like taking a warm bath, watching your favorite TV show, or reading can help take your mind off any uncomfortable symptoms you're experiencing. "Yoga, stretching, and meditation can also be useful for distraction and boosts of endorphins," Dr. Brinley told POPSUGAR.
Finally, "wearing loose-fitting clothing, especially around the vaccination site, can help limit some discomfort and soreness in the arm," Dr. Syed said. She noted that if you develop a red, itchy rash at the injection site about a week after getting the vaccine, take an antihistamine and apply an ice pack. "These reactions, termed 'COVID arm,' are self-limiting and should resolve in a few days and should not discourage people from getting the second vaccine dose," Dr. Syed told POPSUGAR.
Both doctors also emphasized the importance of resting if you're feeling any side effects. "Make sure you're getting sleep," Dr. Brinley said. "Taking a nap or going to bed early helps your body recover from stresses like vaccines."
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, the CDC, and local public health departments.