Doctor shares tips to reduce COVID-19 vaccine side effects

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The COVID-19 vaccine is reaching more arms in New Mexico — but the journey to herd immunity doesn’t come without some discomfort.

Whether it’s the first or second dose, side effects like a high fever, headaches, body aches, chills and pain on the injection site can happen. But whatever you do, it’s not recommended to take painkillers before getting your shot to prevent symptoms, unless your medical provider says you should.

“We want the body to be able to respond the way it needs to respond to start to build that protective immunity,” said Martha Muller, a pediatric infectious diseases provider at UNM Children’s Hospital.

She said products like Tylenol and ibuprofen before a shot could slow down the immunity process. However, taking a pill after showing symptoms is fine.

When it comes to lessening aches, she said a cold or hot shower can help. It’s up to personal preference which temperature the water is.

The same goes for trying to deal with a fever, by cooling down or warming up the body.

“There’s not really anything that’s tried — that’s ‘Oh, this is exactly how you need to manage that from sort of being under a cover or not being under a cover.’ A lot of that is going to be comfort,” she explained. “Listen to your body. Your body will tell you.”

If the arm of the injection site is sore, people can try to do slow arm raises to stretch it out. Before receiving a shot, drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen symptoms.

The main thing is to let the vaccine do its work, but don’t try to tough it out.

“It does wonders for a body in any sort of illness or recovery from side effects from vaccinations — even just having the ability to rest,” she said.