As of Monday, more than 28% of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Maybe it’s your turn next. First: Congratulations on getting a shot! Preventing severe COVID-19 is what all of the approved vaccines do well. Next: You may have questions. If you are about to get vaccinated, you may be wondering how to mitigate potential side effects or whether your daily routine needs to be adjusted. Can you exercise and drink alcohol after your shot? Would popping some ibuprofen be a good idea? Of course, you should consult your physician if you have specific health concerns, but here’s general advice from medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to make your COVID-19 vaccine experience the best possible:
DON’T take over-the-counter medications right before your shot. But feel free to bring them after, if needed. The CDC says you shouldn’t take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin before vaccination to prevent side effects. Pre-medicating is a small but finite concern. The advice is “really just being boringly conservative,” said Thomas Russo, chief of the infectious disease division at the University at Buffalo in New York. “If someone happened to take one of those medications beforehand, they shouldn’t freak out. I’m sure they will be fine, but [not having it ahead is] the recommendation.
This is because over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen are anti-inflammatories that may blunt your body’s response to the vaccine. “You don’t want to take one before you have your vaccine because that could interfere with the ability of that vaccine to give you the most robust response,” said Deborah Fuller, a microbiologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who is working on coronavirus vaccines. After your shot, these medications can be used to
mitigate any side effects you may feel, such as aches or discomfort. Once you have the vaccine, it only takes a few hours to trigger the initial cascade that’s going to be needed to induce the immune response,” Fuller said. “Once the train has left the station, so to speak, the vaccine is in your arm, and it’s already signaled your body to start making an immune response, and you start feeling sore or whatever, then you can go ahead and take those anti-inflammatories.