You feel like crap now that you’ve had your COVID-19 shot. It’s worth it, but BOY, it doesn’t feel that way.
This is a common response: A new study found that 30–90% of people who got the COVID vaccine had some kind of side effect. These effects can start one to three days after getting the shot.
Even though they’re not fun, side effects can be a great sign that your shot is starting to work. A brand-new study (a pre-print, which means it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, so it shouldn’t be taken as final or definitive) from the University of California, San Francisco, found that if you get chills, tiredness, fever, or a headache after getting a vaccine, your body makes more antibodies against the virus than people who didn’t have side effects. These antibodies can be found one month and six months after getting the vaccine. According to the study, the more of these signs you have, the more antibodies you’ll have. Your immune system is also getting ready if your heart rate goes up and your skin feels warm.
“Local and systemic reactions to the COVID shot may mean they are building stronger protection,” says Onyema Ogbuagu, MBBCh, FACP, FIDSA, an expert on the COVID vaccine and infectious diseases and an associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.
A COVID shot makes your immune system work, just like any other vaccine. It is the job of your immune system to fight off any germs or viruses that get into your body. When you get a shot (in this case, with mRNA or a protein subunit), the shot makes antibodies that recognise the newest form of COVID. If you are introduced to the real virus, your immune system will “remember” the germ or virus that it fought off before and send out antibodies to fight it.
Possible side effects of the 2023 vaccine are:
The improved COVID vaccine that came out this fall is new, but it doesn’t have any new, unknown, or worse side effects. Dr. Ogbuagu says, “I understand why people might be scared about getting new shots, like the new booster.” “But it’s important to know that the COVID-19 shot and extra shots are very safe.” There haven’t been any major side affects that we can see. The new COVID booster uses the same technology as the other vaccines. It has just been changed to target the newest type of the virus, just like the flu shot is changed every year. The shot has been put through a lot of tests.
The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health says that the new COVID vaccine is monovalent, which means that it only fights one strain of COVID. This strain is the XBB.15 variety, which is the most recent “version” of Omicron that is likely to make you sick.
The Centres for Disease Control do say, though, that this vaccine and earlier ones have caused some of the same symptoms.
- Hands that hurt, swell, or turn red where the shot was given
- Being tired
- Pain in muscles
- Feels cold
- High temperature
However, keep in mind that “side effects” are generally caused by your immune system reacting to the vaccine. This is how vaccines work, according to Shira Doron, MD, who is the chief infection control officer for the Tufts Medicine health system and the hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Centre in Boston, MA.
I don’t feel any bad affects, so does the vaccine still work?
Prof. of infectious diseases at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and section chief of infectious diseases at Penn Presbyterian Medical Centre in Philadelphia, Judith O’Donnell, MD, says that you can still trust that the vaccine will work if you don’t have any side effects. “There are some people who don’t have any,” she says, even though most people have one or two side affects. “The side effects are caused by your immune system reacting to the antigen or foreign protein in the vaccine.” But each person’s immune system is different, and each person’s immune system reacts differently to something strange in a vaccine.
The study shows that side effects may mean your body did a great job of fighting COVID. Even so, having fewer side effects, less serious side effects, or none at all doesn’t mean you aren’t safe; it just means your bodies are different. “Don’t worry if you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t have any side effects,” says Dr. Doron. “The immune system is complicated, and the shot is still doing its job even if you don’t feel it.”
How long do you think the shot’s side effects will last?
According to data from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, mRNA vaccines like the COVID shot quickly release their payload and then leave your body. This means that you don’t have to worry about any long-term side effects. She says that most side affects last between 24 and 48 hours. “Arm pain can last a little longer sometimes.”
How to get rid of possible side effects:
Yale New Haven Health says that putting an ice pack or cool, damp cloth on the injection site or taking a nice, cool bath can help ease any pain. You can also take an over-the-counter pain killer if you don’t have any other health problems that stop you. You might also feel better if you drink more water for one or two days.
As you would after getting a shot or taking medicine, Yale New Haven Health says to call 911 if you have any emergency symptoms, such as trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, trouble staying conscious, feeling confused, or having blue skin on your mouth or face. But, once more, this is not going to happen.
“Getting COVID-19 carries way more baggage than any side effects you might get from the vaccine,” says Dr. Ogbuagu. “We know that about half of the people who get COVID will get long COVID.” Plus, COVID might have a lot of health effects in the long run that we don’t even know about yet. Don’t worry about the bad effects—they’re a good sign and will go away soon. Just get your shot.
As more is learned about the coronavirus outbreak, some of the details in this story may have changed since it was last turned in. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please check out the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department’s websites.