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COVID-19 vaccine: When to take pain relievers, antihistamines

Health

COVID-19 vaccine: When to take pain relievers, antihistamines

Before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you might consider pre-emptively taking an over-the-counter antihistamine or painkiller to help limit any temporary symptoms you might experience after vaccination.
But public health experts encourage people to wait until after vaccination to take them, if needed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend use of over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and antihistamines as preventive measures before being vaccinated.
“At this point, we’re not sure whether those medications might affect how well the vaccine works, so it’s best to wait until after you receive the vaccine to take them, if you need them,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs for the health system. “That said, if you are taking those medications for a health condition, do not stop them before the vaccine without first discussing it with your doctor.”

Vaccination important

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. At Tidelands Health, the no-cost COVID-19 vaccine – including the third dose and booster dose – is available at three conveniently located regional vaccination sites and at Tidelands Health Family Medicine locations with a regularly scheduled appointment.
It’s normal to experience benign temporary symptoms after receiving the vaccine, which is a sign your body is building protection. The most common temporary symptoms following the vaccine include headache, fever, nausea, chills, fatigue, pain at the injection site and/or muscle pain.  
“These symptoms typically resolve after a few days,” Dr. Harmon says. “If they persist, talk to your doctor. Serious symptoms that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely.”
The CDC recommends the following approaches to help treat temporary symptoms after vaccination:
For a sore arm
• Apply a clean, cool, wet wash cloth over the injection site
• Use or exercise the arm
For fever
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Dress lightly
Over-the-counter painkillers and antihistamines can be used to treat symptoms after you’ve been vaccinated if you have no other medical condition that would prevent you from taking them normally, according to the CDC. Be sure to speak with your physician first, however.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Gerald Harmon

Dr. Gerald Harmon, who has cared for patients in our region for more than 35 years, is a family medicine physician and vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health.

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