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If This Happens After Your COVID Vaccine, it's Not Normal, Say Experts

“Allergic reactions can be lifethreatening,” says the Mayo Clinic.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Woman in medical protective mask getting injection in arm vaccination.

The three COVID-19 vaccines currently being distributed in America are safe and effective, says none other than the Mayo Clinic. "Mayo Clinic experts agree: You should get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available to you," they advise. "COVID-19 cases are still widespread and shifting, and the vaccines that we're recommending have been approved for safe use." Although adverse reactions are extremely rare, it's important to note that "Some people have reactions to certain vaccines," says the Mayo Clinic. Read on for the information you need now—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

1

Common Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccine

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"Typically, reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are mild or moderate," says the Mayo Clinic. "Most reactions happen within the first few days. They usually don't last longer than three days. Some common reactions are shared here: 

  • Pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given 
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain or joint pain 
  • Chills"

The Clinic goes on to note: "Even if you have these reactions, no matter how strong they are, you should get the second dose of your vaccine as needed."

2

Allergic Reactions are Unlikely But Possible

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"There are two types of reactions," says the Mayo Clinic: 

  • "Common reactions are likely to happen. You can treat them at home. 
  • Allergic reactions can be life threatening. If you have any of the signs of an allergic reaction within 4 hours after your first dose, you need to get emergency care right away, then tell your primary health care provider."

3

What to Do if You Have a Common COVID-19 Vaccine Reaction

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"Many people do not have reactions after a vaccine, but it is normal if you do," says the Mayo Clinic. "Give your body time to recover. If needed, ice the injection area, rest and take a pain medication like acetaminophen (example: Tylenol™) or ibuprofen (example: Advil™)."

4

What do Allergic Signs Look Like?

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"Signs of an allergic reaction include the following when they happen within four hours after your first vaccine dose," says the Mayo Clinic: 

  • Continuous shortness of breath or wheezing. 
  • Swelling of the lips, eyes or tongue. 
  • Redness, swelling or itchiness in areas of the body other than the limb in which the vaccine was given."

5

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

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"Call your health care provider if: 

  • You have common reactions that last longer than 3 days. 
  • Your reaction is so strong that you are worried about it. 

Some of the COVID-19 vaccine reactions are the same as the symptoms for a COVID-19 infection. Typically, if you had these symptoms you would be tested for COVID-19. But when you know that your symptoms likely are due to the vaccine, you do not need to be tested. You do need to be tested for COVID-19: • If you were in close contact in the last 2 weeks with someone who has COVID-19. • If you have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell, congestion, or runny nose. These are not reactions to the vaccine."

6

When to Seek Emergency Care

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"If you have any of the signs of an allergic reaction within four hours after your first dose, it is very important that you get emergency care then tell your primary care team right away," says the Mayo Clinic. "Do not wait until your second dose to report possible allergic reactions that you had after your first dose. If you have an allergic reaction, you may need to be assessed by your health care provider as soon as possible. If you have a history of allergies, tell your care team about your allergies. Tell them about all reactions you have had to medications and vaccines."

7

So Can You Get the Vaccine is You Have a History of Allergies?

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Yes, says the Mayo Clinic: "If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications, you may still get a COVID-19 vaccine. You should be monitored for 30 minutes after getting the vaccine. If you've had an immediate allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable medications, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you've ever had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends not getting that specific vaccine. If you have an immediate or severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, don't get the second dose. However, you might be able to get a different vaccine for your second dose."

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick

8

Remember, Above All, the Vaccines are Safe and Effective for Most People

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"You get vaccines to help prevent you from getting illnesses. An example of this is the flu vaccine," says the Mayo Clinic. "Vaccines help your body build up the ability to fight off a virus. A vaccine may not prevent you from getting the COVID-19 virus. But if you do get the virus, the vaccine may keep you from becoming seriously ill. Or it may keep you from developing complications due to the illness. And that may be a lifesaving benefit of the vaccine." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.