man receiving vaccine booster in deltoid muscle

As with last year, the new COVID-19 vaccine booster has a few side effects. Not everyone will experience them, but it is good to be aware of them so you know what to do if you start feeling ill. In this post we will give you some steps to help yourself and family members who are uncomfortable after the shot. We will also discuss the importance of receiving the booster, despite the potential for unpleasant side effects. 

What Are Some Common Side Effects of the New COVID-19 Booster?

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have similar side effects:

Pain At the Injection Site

The most common is pain and redness at the injection site. This can feel like a deep bruise and be very tender with side-lying or other direct pressure.

Fatigue and Weakness

Lack of energy or a feeling of weakness in your muscles is not uncommon following the COVID-19 booster.

Headache

Some individuals might experience mild-to-moderate headaches after the COVID-19 shot.

Muscle and Joint Pain

You may experience body aches and joint pain similar to what one might experience with the flu.

Fever/Chills

A low grade fever and/or chills are also a possibility. Low-grade fevers typically fall between 99.5 and 100.3 degrees. Call your doctor if you experience a fever higher than 102 degrees after your shot. 

Nausea

Some people may feel nauseated and/or have a lack of appetite after the 2023 COVID-19 booster. 

Swollen Lymph Nodes

You may notice a swollen lymph node or nodes, especially on the side of the body where you received the shot. For example, if you had the vaccine in your left arm, you may notice a swollen lymph node under your left armpit. 

Why Does the COVID-19 Shot Cause Side Effects?

Although not pleasant, the above listed side effects are actually a sign that the vaccine is working. It triggers a sudden immune response within the body, which leads your body to behave as if you are ill. 

How Long Do the Side Effects Last?

In most cases, the new COVID booster side effects  will be relatively mild and last only a few days. One exception is the swollen lymph nodes, which can persist for several weeks after the shot.

Minimize the New COVID Booster Side Effects

While side effects from COVID-19 booster shots are usually mild and temporary, several strategies can help alleviate discomfort:

Plan Ahead

It may be wise to schedule your shot around your next days off from work so you have time to rest and recover. Because of the potential for swollen lymph nodes, you will also want to schedule your shot after any cancer screenings, such as a routine mammogram

Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

You can treat headaches, body aches, low-grade fevers, and injection site pain with over the counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen and Tylenol. 

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids to support your immune system and help alleviate muscle and joint stiffness.

Warm or Cold Compresses

If the injection site is very sore, you can soothe it with a warm or cold compress. You can alternate between the two, if it helps. 

Warm Bath

For general body aches and chills, a warm bath can be very soothing. Dry off thoroughly and dress in breathable clothing to help with sudden sweating or fevers. 

Small Meals

Although you may not feel like eating, try to eat small amounts of food. Your body will need energy to recover more quickly, so do your best to get in some calories. If you feel especially nauseated, peppermint or ginger tea may help. 

Importance of Receiving the COVID Booster

The prevalence of uncomfortable side effects following the new COVID booster may dissuade some from getting the shot in the first place. But it is still very important for you to receive the vaccine for several reasons:

Protection Against Severe Illness

Yes, the new COVID booster side effects can be unpleasant; but a few days of feeling low is infinitely preferable to the severe illness full-blown COVID can cause. Boosters increase antibody levels against COVID and its variants, significantly reducing the likelihood of acute infection, hospitalization, and death caused by the virus.

Community Health

It is not just your health you should worry about when you are considering whether or not to get the new COVID shot. We have a duty to protect our more vulnerable populations by doing everything we can to reduce the spread of disease. Vaccines are a simple and effective way of doing this. 

Feeling Sick? 

At this time, the Crane Center is not administering COVID-19 boosters. However, we are often able to accommodate same-day appointments for our other primary care services. This includes routine screenings, wellness exams, and care for flu and cold symptoms. Call ahead to see if we can squeeze you in!

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