There's a 50 Percent Chance You'll Make This Mistake When Getting Vaccinated
You may be going against what many experts are recommending.
When it comes to getting the COVID vaccine, there's not much you have to do on your end but show up for your appointment. However, there are recommendations experts have made to help make your vaccination experience run smoother—like hydrating before and taking off work the next day. But there's one mistake you have a 50 percent chance of making that you probably haven't even thought about: You'll choose the wrong arm for your shot! Read on to find out which arm you should get vaccinated in—it's probably not the one you'd assume—and for more ways to be fully prepared, Doctors Say Do These 2 Things the Morning of Your Vaccine Appointment.
Experts say you should get the vaccine shot in your dominant arm.
You may be under the impression that you should get the COVID vaccine in your non-dominant arm because you'll be using it less. But according to some experts, this is not the best course of action. In fact, Gail Trauco, RN, a registered oncology nurse and founder of Medical Bill 911, says your dominant arm may be the way to go. "Some experts recommend getting the vaccine in the dominant arm because of increased movement and increased blood flow," she explains.
Niket Sonpal, MD, an internist and gastroenterologist from NYC, adds that "getting the vaccine in your dominant arm helps your body absorb the vaccine fluid better." And for more vaccine prep, Don't Do This the Night Before Your Vaccine Appointment, Experts Say.
You move your dominant arm more, which could help reduce post-vaccination arm pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most common side effects of the COVID vaccine is arm pain and soreness. But increased movement could help reduce this soreness or ease it sooner—which is another reason you may want to consider your dominant arm for your shot.
As Peter Chin-Hong, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine, told the San Francisco Chronicle, the vaccine causes pain in your arm because it is injected into your arm muscle and not the bloodstream, which causes your immune system to target inflammation at your muscle area. But as Trauco explains further, more movement helps move the vaccine away from the muscle injection site and into the rest of your body—meaning your immune system will start to target other areas. All of this may reduce soreness, she says. And for more on vaccine reactions, Be Prepared for This the Night You Get Your COVID Vaccine, Doctors Warn.
There could be a few reasons you'd want to get the vaccine in your non-dominant arm, however.
If you're not looking to reduce soreness or soreness time, you can still get the vaccine in your non-dominant arm, of course. In fact, some experts say there are a few reasons why you may want to choose this arm. Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and medical expert for Invigor Medical, recommends that if you are a side-sleeper, you get the vaccine in the arm that you don't sleep on so "you do not put pressure on it while sleeping." If you sleep on your dominant arm, you might want to choose your non-dominant arm for the shot.
Sonpal says you may also want to choose your non-dominant arm if you have to perform certain day-to-day actives, like writing or lifting heavy objects. However, Trauco warns that if you do choose not to get vaccinated in your dominant arm, this means "the vaccine remains at the injection site longer, which increases soreness." And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You can work to reduce soreness no matter which arm you get the shot in.
Regardless of which arm you choose, there are ways you can try to reduce any arm pain or soreness. The CDC recommends applying a "clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area" where you got the shot and using or exercising your arm. In terms of exercise, William Li, MD, a physician and president of The Angiogenesis Foundation, suggests swinging your arm around for a bit, flexing your arm to make a muscle, and pumping your fist for a minute or so. And for more on minimizing arm soreness, Do This Immediately After Getting Your Vaccine, Doctors Say.