Should You Take Pain Relief Medications after Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin

Ahead of getting your COVID-19 vaccine, you need to know what medications are safe to take afterward -- what not to take just before getting the vaccine.

If you are dealing with vaccine side effects, you might be considering taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines.

The CDC stresses you should NOT take any of these medications ahead of your vaccine in an effort to pre-treat possible symptoms.

As for after you get the vaccine, the CDC explains you can take these medications if needed.

"Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally," the CDC states.

So far, there have reportedly been no studies that specifically examine whether medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen interfere with how well the COVID vaccine works. Research conducted prior to COVID found that premedication with fever-reducing meds like acetaminophen or ibuprofen decreased the antibody response in kids when they received vaccines for other diseases.

There has been one recent study by the Journal of Virology which found that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- which includes ibuprofen -- reduced the production of antibodies and other aspects of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2. The study's authors said their findings might mean NSAIDs could affect the body's immune response to the vaccine, but further studies would be needed.

It is important to note, during the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials, participants were allowed to take these types of medications if they felt like they needed them and health experts note it did not appear to affect the vaccine's effectiveness. 

Some non-medication treatment options for COVID vaccine side effects for pain -- according to the CDC -- include:

For pain at the injection site: Apply a clean, cool, and wet towel or washcloth and use or exercise the arm where you received your shot.

For fever discomfort: Drink plenty of fluids and dress in cool, loose clothing.

As always, if you have trouble breathing or experience swelling after getting the vaccine, contact 911 or your healthcare provider immediately. 

More: Are the COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Worse for Women?

More: Does the Vaccine Help COVID Long-Haulers with Their Lasting Symptoms?

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