If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine
Taking this common medication could make the vaccine less effective.
Many of us are eagerly awaiting our turn to get the COVID vaccine and when it finally comes time to get vaccinated, it's important to make sure the shot works to its full capacity without anything hindering its efficacy. Some experts have warned against getting a bad night of sleep or drinking alcohol before sitting down for your first dose. Now doctors are also warning that you should stop using ibuprofen and acetaminophen before getting your COVID vaccine. Keep reading to see why experts say you shouldn't take these over-the-counter medications before getting vaccinated—and when you need to cut yourself off. And to see if you're in one of the groups that shouldn't get the shot at all, check out The Only 2 People Who Shouldn't Get the COVID Vaccine, FDA Official Says.
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Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen before your COVID shot could make it less effective.
Ibuprofen is sold under brand names like Advil and Motrin, while acetaminophen is sold under the brand name Tylenol, among others. You might take these over-the-counter drugs to help you address day-to-day discomfort or maybe you were planning to take some before your shot in anticipation of the vaccine's potential side effects. But there is one important reason experts suggest avoiding these medications before your immunization: they could blunt your body's immune response.
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These medications could prevent your body from producing antibodies.
Although the COVID vaccine's interaction with ibuprofen or acetaminophen hasn't yet been studied, experts surmise what could occur if the two collided. The University of California Irvine warns that "taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen before receiving a COVID vaccine may reduce its ability to work and blunt your immune response to the vaccine."
That's because "these OTC medications work as anti-inflammatories and block a pathway called the cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2) enzyme," says Ashley Ellis, PharmD, director of clinical operations for Compwell. These enzymes are necessary for your body to be able to produce a high volume of "B-lymphocytes, which downstream make antibodies to COVID, the flu, or whichever pathogen the vaccine is trying to protect against."
To find out what another expert just said about the vaccine, check out Dr. Fauci Just Gave This Warning About COVID Vaccine Side Effects.
This could affect your body's ability to fight the virus later on.
If these enzymes are blocked, your body is less likely to be able to produce the necessary antibodies in response to the vaccine, which could potentially make the it less effective in protecting you should you become infected with COVID later on.
"You want the immune system to see the antigen (the vaccine) and respond to it. Doing so is how your immune system creates antibodies and cells that can kill the virus if seen again after getting the vaccine," says Jason Reed, PharmD, founder of BestRxforSavings. "Therefore, the concern is using these drugs prior to getting the vaccine would mute this immune response and possibly interfere with building the defense."
And to see what the CDC had to say about the current outbreak in the U.S., check out The CDC Just Issued This Grim Warning About the COVID Surge.
Experts say you should stop taking these meds one to two days before getting vaccinated.
There are plenty of similarities between COVID and the flu and how they present in patients, which is why a study that found that taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen did affect patients' immune response to the flu vaccine is particularly noteworthy. One of the authors of the 2015 study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center, David J. Topham, PhD, advised in a statement that "unless your health care provider tells you otherwise, it's best not to take pain relievers one or two days before the flu vaccine" because doing so "can dilute the power of the vaccine." To see if you could currently have COVID, check out If This Part of Your Body Hurts, You Could Have COVID.