Friday’s COVID Vaccine Update — Should I take pain relievers when I get the vaccine?

Patients and friends are asking if pain relievers/fever reducers can be taken to reduce the side effects of the COVID vaccine. Here is a nice summary prepared by my friends at

If possible, avoid taking pain relievers/fever reducers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen (or other NSAIDsbefore getting the vaccine, since research has found that acetaminophen and ibuprofen can reduce the antibody response to several other vaccines (Herve, NPJ Vaccines 2019).

Taking these medicines prior to the COVID-19 vaccine MAY (emphasis on “may”, because we do not know for sure) blunt immune response to this vaccine as well, although this has not yet been reported.

However, according to the CDC, people who are taking aspirin, acetaminophen or similar medicines for other conditions may continue to do so as directed by one’s doctor.

Pain relievers/fever reducers CAN (and I think should) be taken in the days after vaccine administration to reduce side effects such as pain, fever, or headache.

Keep in mind that other strategies such as applying a cool washcloth or exercising your arm may also help relieve pain, while drinking plenty of water and dressing lightly may help lessen discomfort from fever (CDC, What to Expect 2020).

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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4 Responses to Friday’s COVID Vaccine Update — Should I take pain relievers when I get the vaccine?

  1. Julie Lyons says:

    Walt, what have you learned about any risks in having the vaccine? Do we know if it’s safe since it hasn’t been tested on animals?

  2. Hey Julie,

    The two mRNA COVID vaccines were lab tested and have been through Phase 1, Phase 2, and are now in Phase 3 human trials with over 100,000 humans getting the vaccines. After FDA emergency authorization, millions and millions of doses have been administered here in the U.S. and around the world. Severe side effects (the worst have been anaphylactic or severe allergic reactions) occur in between 2-5 cases per million vaccines administered. No confirmed deaths. All side severe side effects easily treated.

    Side effects such as fatigue or headache occur in under five percent of participants. Less than two percent developed muscle aches or fever. However, almost everyone taking the vaccine will experience transient soreness at the injection site. These reactions, which typically resolve within 48 hours, are a normal response to vaccines — one that shows it is working as intended and are easily treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol).

    Barb and I had our first Moderna vaccine 3 weeks ago and our arms were slightly sore for a day or two. We get our second shot on Tuesday.

    Love to you both.


  3. Georgia Towers says:

    I am scheduled to have my first Covid vaccine one hour prior to my scheduled Chemo. I sent a message to cancer clinic and was told it would be okay. Do you have any stats on whether or not this is safe?

  4. Georgia,

    Since the situation for every person is different, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine with your cancer doctor. They can advise you and tell you when you should receive it. However, the American Cancer Society has an article, “COVID-19 Vaccines in People with Cancer,” you may want to check out.

    Dr. Walt

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