What to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Published on April 09, 2021

a man gives a woman her shot

COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you from getting COVID-19. You may have some side effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.

Common side effects on the arm where you got the shot:

• Pain.

• Redness.

• Swelling.

Common side effects throughout the rest of your body:

• Tiredness.

• Headache.

• Muscle pain.

• Chills.

• Fever.

• Nausea.

If you have pain or discomfort after getting your vaccine, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.

To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

When to call the doctor

In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or health care provider if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours. If your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days, call your health care provider. 

With some COVID-19 vaccines, you will need two shots in order to get full protection. You should get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it.

You will only need one shot of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines that require two shots may not protect you until about two weeks after your second shot. For COVID-19 vaccines that require one shot, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to build protection.

After you are fully vaccinated, you may be able to start doing some things you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. Visit CDC’s website for the latest recommendations. 



Photo: COVID-19 vaccine side effects should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.



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