Millions of people across the UK have now received their first or second dose of a Covid vaccine, as the vaccination programme rollout continues to progress.
But are there any side effects to the coronavirus vaccine and can painkillers such as paracetamol be taken to help reduce them?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Can I take paracetamol after the Covid vaccine?
The NHS website says that after the Covid vaccine, “you can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.”
However, although there is limited evidence, some experts believe that certain painkillers might interfere with what the vaccine is trying to do.
The coronavirus vaccine works by tricking the body into believing it has a virus so it can build an immune defence against it, which is what’s happening when you experience muscle aches, arm soreness or any other symptom of inflammation after your jab.
Certain painkillers which target inflammation, like ibuprofen, could therefore curb the immune response that the vaccine is trying to generate.
A study on mice in the Journal of Virology found that these drugs could lower the production of antibodies, which are the substances that fight the virus when it tries to infect cells.
For these reasons, some medical professionals say it is better not to take a painkiller after getting the vaccine if you do not need it - unless you routinely take them for a medical condition - but as previously noted, the NHS says paracetamol can be taken after a Covid vaccine.
Can I take paracetamol or other painkillers before the Covid vaccine?
Some doctors also advise that you should not take a painkiller as a preventative measure before receiving your Covid vaccine - unless you have been told to do so by a doctor.
Although taking paracetamol or other painkillers before a Covid-19 vaccine most likely won’t do any harm, it is not necessary and there’s also a chance that the immune response to the jab could be weakened.
However, there is no specific evidence that taking a painkiller before receiving a coronavirus vaccine will impact your body’s ability to build up immunity to the virus, and the advice not to take a painkiller before is purely on a precautionary basis.
What are the side effects of the Covid vaccine?
Most side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, according to the NHS.
You can report any suspected side effect using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Yellow Card safety scheme.
The Coronavirus Yellow Card website also says: “Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases and they save millions of lives worldwide.
“Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them.”
Side effects from the Covid vaccine can include:
- a sore arm where the needle went in
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
You may also get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery one or two days after having your vaccination.
However, if you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, then you may have Covid and you should stay at home and get a PCR test.
You and anyone you live with should stay at home until you get your test result and only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
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