Tips for managing the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

Many who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 report no side effects.

But having some response from your immune system still isn't unusual.

The infection prevention specialist for WakeMed knows first-hand about vaccine immune response symptoms about which she cautions others.

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"Headache, joint pain, body aches, fatigue. Some people have some nausea. And, you know, just a general kind of crummy feeling," said Jessica Dixon.

Dixon and her husband are both healthcare workers, both have had both rounds of the vaccine, and both have experienced side effects.

"He had a headache about two hours after his shot that went away with Tylenol, and then felt fine the rest of the day except for a sore arm. The next day he woke up with what he described as the worst headache he's ever had," Dixon said, noting that she was referring to his first inoculation. She said her worst reaction was soreness at the injection site.

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"I would say it was worse than a flu shot but not as bad as a tetanus shot," she said.

After the second shot, however, the reaction was more than just soreness in her arm.

"I was kind of just generally tired and achy and grumpy," she said.

And her husband felt bad again after the second shot, especially the next day when his energy level was low.

But, Dixon was quick to say, it was worth it for both of them.

"Feeling bad for one day was definitely worth not getting COVID," she said.

Acetaminophen was all Dixon and her husband needed to remedy their symptoms.

She said you can substitute ibuprofen or aspirin for headaches, fever, and injection site swelling.

A topical or oral antihistamine could help if that site is itching.

Basically anything that helps with cold and flu symptoms might help with coronavirus vaccine side effects, according to Dixon.

"The same things that you would do to manage those sorts of symptoms under any other circumstances are great to do to manage the side effects of the vaccine," she said.

The CDC has a page on its website that addresses vaccine side effects.

Dixon certainly hasn't heard of any reactions severe enough to justify not getting the vaccine.

"What I'm telling people is plan to feel bad for a day, maybe two after your second dose particularly," she said.

Dixon also pointed out that the vaccine doesn't take full effect for a week or two after that second shot.

So if you have persistent symptoms don't ignore them.

You could have contracted the novel coronavirus before the vaccine took effect.
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