Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may dull the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Although these side effects are usually a minor nuisance for most people, some try to prevent them by taking pre-medication without a prescription such as acetaminophen (tylenol) or ibuprofen (eg Motrin, Advil). However, experts said that these drugs could not only dull the pain, but could dull the vaccine from its full effect.
“We do not recommend premedication with ibuprofen or tylenol prior to COVID-19 vaccines due to a lack of data on how it affects vaccine-induced antibody responses,” said Dr. Simon Wilds, an infectious disease specialist at South Shore Medical Center and a member of the The COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group in Massachusetts told ABC News.
The side effects of vaccines are caused by the activation of the immune system, which means that the immune system works and begins to build immunity to COVID-19 – this is what we want. These painkillers are anti-inflammatory drugs. They prevent parts of the immune system from working and slow down the immune response. There is a theory that taking these drugs before immunization may reduce their effectiveness.
A study from Duke University found that children who took painkillers before receiving their childhood vaccines had fewer antibodies than those who did not take the drugs, which may mean less protection. However, there were still protective levels of antibodies, despite the dullness.
“You would always want an optimal response to your vaccine,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. “We recommend, unless people react significantly to the first dose they keep [pain killers]. “
“Most people have a slightly sore arm,” Schaffner said, “but otherwise they feel pretty good.”
While experts recommend not taking over-the-counter over-the-counter medications before you receive the vaccine, they say you should continue to take them if you are already doing so for another medical condition. Schaffner warned that stopping these drugs could cause unintentional problems and be more harmful than helpful.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends monitoring side effects after taking a shot. As painkillers and antipyretics are not intended to be used before symptoms occur, talk to your doctor before vaccination to decide whether to take any painkillers without a prescription after receiving the shot.
Other, more natural ways to reduce pain and discomfort include: placing a clean, cool, wet towel over the injection site and moving or exercising the arm. And for fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.
“If you develop a fever, chills, or headache after an injection, use painkillers to deal with your symptoms, but not before they develop and report significant side effects to a healthcare professional,” Wilds said.
Dr. Sean Leulin, MD, is a resident of family medicine at the University of Colorado and a contributor to the medical unit of ABC News.