The Real Reason You Shouldn't Take A Pain Reliever Before A COVID-19 Vaccination

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you may experience pain and swelling in the injection area, as well as chills, fever, and headache. These can become quite uncomfortable for some people and while combatting the symptoms by taking OTC pain relievers prior to the vaccine appointment seems like a good idea, some doctors are cautioning against that. According to KSHB-Kansas City, information is lacking on how anti-inflammatories and other pain medications can affect the vaccines' potency. 

Experts still aren't sure whether or not medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine for sure. Infectious disease specialist Simone Wildes, M.D., told ABC News in an interview, "We do not recommend premedication with ibuprofen or Tylenol before COVID-19 vaccines due to the lack of data on how it impacts the vaccine-induced antibody responses." The negative effects you might feel after the vaccination stem from the way the immune system reacts as it begins building immunity and it's possible that some pain relievers can alter the efficiency of the shot.

Striving for maximum efficacy

Infectious disease specialist William Schaffner, M.D., told ABC News, "We are recommending that unless people have a substantial reaction to the first dose that they hold their [pain killers]." Furthermore, Jewel Mullen, M.D., told KSHB-Kansas City, "Another reason it's helpful not to pre-medicate yourself is that you can really pay attention to what your symptoms are and not mask them." With multiple reports of allergic reactions, monitoring your unaltered post-vaccine symptoms is important.

Dr. Mullen recommends that people taking pain medications on a regular basis speak with their doctor before making any changes. And Dr. Wildes states that using OTC medication is fine if unwanted side effects occur post vaccine, such as fever or aches, but only after the symptoms present themselves. Otherwise, make sure you stay hydrated and use a cool compress on the injection site. Exercising your arm can help minimize discomfort, too.