COVID-19 vaccine side effects:
What they are, why they’re normal, and how to prepare

Each day, more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Hopes are high that vaccination is the last step we need to protect ourselves and put the pandemic behind us. But some people may still have questions or concerns about vaccine side effects. Here’s what you need to know about possible COVID-19 vaccine side effects — including how to prepare and why side effects could be expected.

Possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines
Understanding vaccine side effects can help you feel more prepared. 

Throughout your body:

  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever

In your arm:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

In the clinical trials and reports from those who have been vaccinated, side effects usually lasted for 1 to 2 days.

Simple ways to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine

Before you get the vaccine, consider these steps to help prepare for any side effects:

Stay hydrated — Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before getting the vaccine, especially if you tend to feel lightheaded when you get a vaccine or have your blood drawn. Staying hydrated is always good for your overall health. You should also try to avoid alcohol the night before your vaccine appointment, as drinking too much alcohol can cause dehydration.

Get sleep — Getting proper sleep can help support a healthy immune system. A recent study found that flu vaccines may be more effective in people who get enough sleep — at least 7 hours a night — the 2 nights before getting their shot.3

Take care of yourself — Be good to your body and take care of yourself on the day or days that you get your vaccine. If you have pain in your arm, you can use an ice pack for relief. If you have chills, a warm shower or heated blanket may feel nice. It can be a special or even emotional moment of relief and joy when you get your COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s important to be kind to yourself and take care.

Consider pain relief meds — Keep ibuprofen like Advil or asprin on hand for after you get vaccinated to help with body aches or a fever.  But don’t take pain medications before getting your COVID-19 vaccine, since that may reduce the vaccine’s effectiveness.