COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Doctors say it’s normal, and in fact, likely you could feel a little sick after getting your COVID vaccine. But they don’t want the fear of side effects to stop you from getting the lifesaving shot. Those flu-like symptoms are also a good thing, according to Dr. Helmut Albrecht, chair of the Prisma Health-University of South Carolina Medical Group, and Dr. Francisco Albert, Lexington Medical Center hospitalist.
“We actually like to see that because it shows the vaccine is working in you,” said Dr. Albrecht. “I had a little headache and a little fever the first night and then was fine.”
In fact, they say a Moderna study shows about 54 percent of people have reported side effects after getting their first COVID vaccine, and up to 79 percent experienced side effects after their second dose.
Dr. Albrecht says the younger you are, the stronger your immune system, which means you’re more likely to experience symptoms, like soreness, fatigue, chills headaches and fevers.
“If you vaccinate a whole lot of 20-year-olds, you’ll see more reaction because they are able to react better,” said Albrecht.
These doctors say most pain relievers will help with side effects of the vaccine, but don’t take these medications before getting your shot.
“If we take ibuprofen or Tylenol prior, we potentially prevent or minimize the effects of that vaccine,” said Dr. Albert. “We don’t know for sure, but we know it’s a potential.”
Drinking plenty of water and resting can also help your body recover.
“You may not feel well enough to work the next day,” said Albrecht. “If you have to travel that day, delay it by a day.”
These doctors say the small pain is worth the gain of helping protect yourself and your community.
“I think we have to realize that a little bit of inconvenience for a day or two far outweighs the benefits of returning to a life of normalcy and really mitigating the number of deaths that we’re seeing,” Dr. Albert explained.
If you are still experiencing flu-like symptoms 48 to 72 hours after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, both doctors say you should contact your primary care provider and consider getting tested for COVID-19. They want to remind you the vaccine cannot give you the virus.
Another piece of advice from these doctors, if you’ve recently had COVID-19, they suggest you wait three months before receiving your first dose. Dr. Albrecht says if you still have some immunity, getting the vaccine won’t hurt you, but you could experience stronger side effects.
If you do contract the virus after your first dose, Albrecht says you should still get your second dose. Just make sure you are out of your 10 day isolation period.