Whether preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine or enduring side effects, officials provided guidance over the last few months on taking various over-the-counter medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people talk to their doctors about taking over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort after getting vaccinated.
The CDC does not recommend, however, that people take such over-the-counter medications or antihistamines to prevent side effects prior to receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
"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. "It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects."
Health officials noted that it is not known how those medications might affect the efficacy of the vaccine. For people who take medications for underlying medical conditions, the CDC recommends to continue taking.
The CDC recommends you seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- If the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
- If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
- If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.
According to Pfizer, about 3.8% of their clinical trial participants experienced fatigue as a side effect and 2% got a headache. Moderna says 9.7% of their participants felt fatigued and 4.5% got a headache.
The CDC reports common side effects on the arm where the shot was administered include:
Common side effects in the body include:
- Muscle pain
"The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine both need 2 shots in order to get the most protection," the CDC states. "You should get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it."
To reduce pain at the injection site, the CDC recommends to apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the surface. Health officials also recommend to use or exercise the injected arm.