I am one of the lucky ones to just receive my 2nd vaccine dose through WVU. Many thanks to my pharmacy colleagues and those in the other health sciences programs who are providing vaccinations. As someone with parents and relatives in their 80s and 90s in other states who are still waiting for their vaccine, it is also great to see the mass vaccination program for the general public.
There are two things I wanted to make sure you are aware of:
After getting the vaccine, enroll in vsafe (you can enroll even if vaccinated up to 6 weeks ago). Vsafe is a CDC program to track vaccine safety through your smartphone. Go to vsafe.cdc.gov on your phone to enroll. Once registered, you will receive daily text messages for about a week with a few short questions asking how you are feeling, if you are having any problems at the injection site, or any other effects. Side effects are listed that you can click if present, and a box is provided for any other problems you might be experiencing. The CDC states that, depending on what you said, someone might contact you for more information. After the daily messages, you will receive a couple of weekly follow-up texts. Fast and easy! There is information about vsafe in the vaccine fact sheets you are given (that you should read), but the web address listed is not for direct enrollment. It is always important to follow up on possible side effects after vaccination, so please participate in vsafe.
If you experience what you feel is a more serious adverse effect, notify your health provider right away. You can also submit a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at https://vaers.hhs.govexternal icon or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
The CDC also states the following: “Antipyretic or analgesic medications (e.g., acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be taken for the treatment of post-vaccination local or systemic symptoms, if medically appropriate. However, routine prophylactic administration of these medications for the purpose of preventing post-vaccination symptoms is not currently recommended, as information on the impact of such use on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine-induced antibody responses is not available at this time.” (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html) Simply stated, the CDC does not recommend taking a medication such as Tylenol, Motril, Advil, Aleve, etc. before you receive the vaccine for the purpose of preventing pain or fever. Why? There have been some studies (not involving the COVID vaccine, primarily in children) that showed lower antibody concentrations in response to certain vaccines when these medications were taken before vaccination to prevent pain or fever. However, in the majority of patients, the antibody levels achieved still appeared to be appropriate to obtain protection. A few studies also showed that taking such medication six or more hours after vaccination to treat pain or fever did not appear to significantly reduce antibody response. Don’t worry if you routinely take a medication such as ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to treat a medical condition – keep taking them as prescribed. However, if you don’t need to regularly take these medications, to help ensure the best antibody response possible avoid taking Tylenol or other pain/fever reducing medications before the vaccine for the purpose of preventing side effects. If you develop annoying pain or a fever after the vaccine (and don’t have another reason to avoid these medications), it should be ok to take one of them at least six or more hours later.
Marie A. Abate
WV Center for Drug and Health Information
WVU School of Pharmacy