Before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, avoid preventative pain relievers like Tylenol, Motrin: Experts

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are being offered to a growing number of people. People who are vaccinated usually experience minimal side effects – the most common being temporary pain and swelling at the injection site, fevers, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches.

Although these side effects are usually a minor nuisance for most people, some people try to prevent them by taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (eg Motrin, Advil) beforehand. However, experts said that these drugs could not only ease the pain but also prevent the vaccine from working fully.

“We do not recommend premedication with ibuprofen or Tylenol before COVID-19 vaccines due to the lack of data on its impact on antibody responses induced by the vaccine,” Dr Simone Wildes, infectious disease specialist in the South Shore Medical Center and a member of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, told ABC News.

The side effects of vaccines are caused by the activation of the immune system, which means that the immune system is working and begins to develop immunity against COVID-19 – this is what we want. These pain relievers can prevent parts of the immune system from working and slow down the immune response. There is a theory that taking these drugs before vaccination may reduce their effectiveness.

A study from Duke University found that children who took pain relievers before receiving their childhood vaccines had fewer antibodies than those who did not take the drugs, which could mean less protection. However, there were still levels of protective antibodies, despite the blunting.

“You would always want an optimal response to your vaccine,” Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist and professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. “We recommend that unless people have a severe reaction to the first dose, they maintain their [pain killers]. “

“The vast majority of people have a little sore arm,” Schaffner said, “but otherwise they feel pretty good.”

While experts recommend that you don’t take over-the-counter pain relievers before getting vaccinated, they say you should keep taking them if you’re already taking them for another health problem. Schaffner warned that stopping these drugs could cause unintentional problems and be more harmful than beneficial.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that after receiving your injection, you watch for side effects. Since pain relievers and antipyretics are not meant to be used until symptoms appear, talk to your doctor before vaccination to decide whether you should take over-the-counter pain relievers after receiving the vaccine.

Other more natural ways to reduce pain and discomfort include: applying a clean, cool, damp washcloth to the injection site and moving or exercising your arm. And if you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

“If fever, chills, headache develop after injection,” use pain relievers to relieve your symptoms, but not before they develop and report any significant side effects to a healthcare practitioner , said Wildes.

Sean Llewellyn, MD, Ph.D., resident family medicine physician at the University of Colorado, contributes to the ABC News medical unit.

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