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Most People Feel This One Side Effect After COVID Vaccine

It may be inconvenient, but it's nothing to worry about.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Minor side effects are common after vaccinations, and the COVID-19 vaccines are no exception. Not everyone experiences physical symptoms after an inoculation, but it can be helpful to know which side effects are most common, so you're not taken by surprise. "COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection," says the CDC. "These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

1

You're Likely to Have a Sore Arm After Your Vaccine

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Similar side effects have been reported for the three vaccines currently being administered (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson), and for all three, the most common was pain at the injection site. You've probably gotten a vaccine before and experienced some slight arm soreness afterward, so it's likely that news isn't too much of a shock.

2

You Might Experience "Pain, Swelling or Redness"

Senior woman with arm pain
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The CDC says you might experience "pain, swelling or redness" at the injection site, and they offer some suggestions for treatment:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
  • Use or exercise the affected arm
  • Talk with your doctor about whether it's safe for you to use over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Don't take these before your vaccine in the hope of preventing pain—experts aren't sure if that would make the vaccine less effective.

Any soreness you feel will likely go away within 24 hours or so. If it doesn't, or if pain gets worse after 24 hours, give your doctor a call and let them know what's going on.

RELATED: Doctors Say "DO NOT" Do This After Your COVID Vaccine

3

Other Possible Side Effects

A man experiencing discomfort in his upper arm
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Aside from a sore arm, you might feel achy all over. That's normal, and like other side effects, it's a sign that the body is developing an immune response. "A few people mentioned to me that they felt like they just did a high interval impact training," Dr. Bonnie Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics and infectious-disease expert at Stanford University School of Medicine, told Today.com last week. "Their muscles felt sore. And not just at the site of the injection." 

Other common side effects include fatigue, headache, chills, fever and nausea; these can be stronger after the second dose of the two-shot regimens. Rest, fluids, and and over-the-counter pain relievers can help. The day after the vaccine, some people take the day off or make sure their schedule is light. But others aren't bothered by side effects at all.

4

Some People Get "COVID Arm"

Uncomfortable young woman scratching her arm while sitting on the sofa at home.
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Another side effect to be aware of is "COVID arm," which has been reported by several people who received the Moderna vaccine and a handful who got the Pfizer shot. It's a red rash that appears a week or more after the vaccine is given, and like the other side effects, it's a normal immune response.  

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick

5

How to Survive This Pandemic

Young caucasian woman wearing surgical gloves putting face mask on, protection from spread of Coronavirus
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As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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