Do This Immediately After Getting Your Vaccine, Doctors Say

If you do this after your vaccination, you could help ease this key side effect.

Whether you've already gotten vaccinated or are gearing up for your shot, by now you know there's one side effect you're almost guaranteed to experience: pain at the injection site. It's something 82 percent of Moderna recipients, about 64 percent of Pfizer recipients, and 48 percent of those who've gotten the Johnson and Johnson vaccine all experience. But while this side effect is expected, that doesn't make it any less painful or unnerving. So is there any way for you to help ease this side effect? Well, according to doctors, doing one thing in particular immediately after your vaccination may actually help. Read on to find out what you should be doing after you get the COVID vaccine, and for more on vaccine reactions, learn about The Common Vaccine Side Effect That No One Is Talking About, Experts Say.

You should swing your arm in a circle after getting your vaccine.

Young woman at home stretching her arm
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There is a new trend going viral on TikTok where people have been filming themselves swinging their arms in a circle, windmill-style, after receiving their shot, in hopes it will prevent or limit arm pain after the vaccine. But does it work? Peter Chin-Hong, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it is, in fact, likely to ease arm pain.

"Basically, what they're doing… is increasing the blood supply to the arm that's vaccinated," he explained. According to Chin-Hong, your arm becomes sore because the vaccine is injected into your arm muscle and not the bloodstream, which causes your immune system to target inflammation at the muscle area. But moving your arm in a circle can help increase your arm's blood flow, which will diffuse the vaccine away from your muscle and let the immune system begin to target other parts of your body. And for more on what to do after vaccination, Make Sure to Do This the Day After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Say.

It is more effective if you swing your arm immediately after your vaccination.

A young female adult is at her doctor's office to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. She is holding the sleeve of her shirt up and her doctor is preparing to administer the shot onto her arm. They are both wearing a face mask to protect themselves from germs.
iStock

There is no guarantee that you will stop all arm pain from occurring by swinging your arm. But doing so consistently and immediately after your vaccination is likely to reduce some pain, according to Chin-Hong.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle that moving your arm as soon as you're released from your vaccine waiting period is important in order to help disperse the vaccine sooner, which is more likely to reduce soreness than waiting to do arm exercises when you get home.

Allison Agwu, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, also told Today that when you get the COVID shot—or any other vaccine—you should always "try to move your arm" as much as possible. "Staying still will just increase muscle soreness," she says, noting that restricting your movement causes the vaccine to stay concentrated in one spot for longer, which can lead to discomfort.

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Simply massaging your arm isn't likely to produce the same effect.

Man feeling elbow pain, sport injury, chronic rheumatism, health problem
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You may think massaging your arm will produce similar results without the need for exercise, but not quite. Chin-Hong said massaging your arm isn't likely to yield the same effect as swinging it around in a circle. "If you massage the area it probably isn't going to be as good as moving your arm like a windmill because it's just making the vaccine just stay in the muscle area so it's not increasing blood supply," he explained.

That's why the CDC recommends exercising your arm to reduce pain and discomfort after the shot or applying a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area, which Chin-Hong said can help as well.

And for more on what you shouldn't do after the vaccine, Don't Do This for 2 Days After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctors Say.

If the side effect worsens after a few days, contact your doctor.

Shot of a senior man experiencing shoulder pain while using a smartphone at home
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Arm pain or tenderness is one of the most common side effects that can occur after your COVID vaccination, according to the CDC. But it should go away in a few days. If redness or tenderness where you got your shot gets worse after 24 hours, the CDC recommends that you contact your doctor or healthcare provider. And if your side effects are "worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days," then you should also reach out, per the CDC.

And for more on what they advise, find out why The CDC Says Don't Take This After Your Vaccine Without a Doctor's OK.

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