The CDC Says Don't Take This After Your Vaccine Without a Doctor's OK

Talk to your doctor first if you want to do this after getting vaccinated.

States are continuing to widen eligibility requirements for the coronavirus vaccine, which means your chance to get vaccinated could be coming soon. However, getting the shot is just one part of the process. There are important things to keep in mind both before and after your vaccination to make sure you stay safe and that your vaccine is effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now emphasizes that you shouldn't take this one thing after your vaccine without permission from a doctor first. Keep reading to find out what requires a physician's approval, and for more vaccine guidelines, The CDC Says Don't Do This Within 2 Weeks of Your COVID Vaccine.

The CDC says you should talk to your doctor before taking OTC medications after your vaccine.


Side effects are common and normal after getting the COVID vaccine, according to the CDC. You could experience pain, a headache, muscle aches, or a fever, all of which might have you reaching for pain relievers. However, in a March 5 update, the CDC stressed that you need to talk to your doctor first before "taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines" after the vaccine. While this warning had been on the website beforehand, it has now been bolded for emphasis.

These medications include widely-used pain relievers and fever reducers like Motrin and Advil (which are brands of ibuprofen) and Tylenol (which is a brand of acetaminophen). While these pills can relieve post-vaccination side effects, your doctor can help you decide if they are safe for you to take after your shot. And for more drugs to consult your doctor about, If You Take This Common Medication, Talk to a Doctor Before Your Vaccine.

There are other ways to reduce your post-vaccination pain and discomfort.

Woman with pain in upper arm

Medication isn't the only way you can relieve your post-vaccination side effects, however. According to the CDC, if you want to reduce pain and discomfort where you received the shot, you can "apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area." The agency also suggests you use or exercise your arm to help relieve any pain. If you have a fever after your vaccination, the CDC recommends drinking plenty of fluids and dressing lightly to reduce discomfort from your fever. And for more on vaccine preparation, Doctors Say Do These 2 Things the Morning of Your Vaccine Appointment.

The CDC recommends that you avoid OTC medications right before vaccination.

Man taking medicine before driving his car

While the CDC says post-vaccination OTC medication is fine with a doctor's approval, the agency says it is "not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects." It is not yet known how these drugs could affect your vaccination response.

"There are a couple of small studies in children having to do with regular vaccines—not COVID vaccines— that might indicate that taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen before you get the vaccine might reduce your antibody response a little," William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, explained to Prevention. "But nobody really knows whether this has any clinical significance and it's never been studied on a clinical scale." And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You should also talk to your doctor if you feel worried about your side effects.

Lonely sad woman deep in thoughts sitting daydreaming or waiting for someone in the living room with a serious expression, she is pensive and suffering from insomnia sitting on couch (Lonely sad woman deep in thoughts sitting daydreaming or waiting fo

The CDC acknowledges that the side effects that can arise after your COVID vaccination might "affect your ability to do daily activities," but they should only last for a few days. However, if your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away on their own, the CDC says you should reach out to a doctor or healthcare provider. You should also contact a medical professional "if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours," per the CDC's guidelines. And for more on vaccine reactions, If This Happens After Your Vaccine, the FDA Says You Should Call 911.

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