COVID vaccine

Which arm should you get your COVID booster in? Why your choice could matter

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

As new COVID-19 vaccine booster doses make their way into the hands of pharmacies and medical facilities, there’s an interesting question on the minds of some patients.

Which arm should I get my COVID shot in?

While many individuals have preferences, there could be a scientific reason to be deliberate in your choice. According to a study, published in EBioMedicine and highlighted by the University of Minnesota, among others, scientists in Germany found that the immune response was better in individuals who got their COVID vaccines in the same arm they had gotten previous shots.

The study looked at 303 individuals who had received the two-dose Pfizer COVID vaccine series.

In the study, antibody levels were measured two weeks after the second dose of the two-dose sequence. 147 of the participants received their second dose in the same arm that they had received their first dose in, and 156 of the patients received it in the opposite arm.

Researchers found that “Killer-T cell” levels were significantly higher in patients who had the shot in the same arm.

Those cells, which “attack and destroy the other cells they target,” according to CNN, were present in 67% of patients who had been injected in the same arm, compared to 43% of those who got the shots in different arms.

Researchers did caution that more information would be needed, including among those who had been infected with COVID following their shots.

Why could a same-arm strategy be more effective? Scientists believe that if “immune cells in the lymph nodes are restimulated in the same place,” as they would be in getting an injection in the same arm twice, there will be a “greater immunological response” to the second shot, according to CNN.

Aside from the “which arm” question, many individuals will seek out information on how to relieve arm pain from vaccinations too.

According to UnityPoint Health, ways of relieving pain include relaxing during the vaccination, moving the arm around to help disperse the injected dose into your body, and stretching, to help reduce inflammation.

Icing, over-the-counter pain medication and avoiding strenuous exercise can also help.

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