Should you take painkillers BEFORE or AFTER your COVID-19 vaccination?
Or is it true that painkillers can KILL YOU if you take it with your COVID-19 vaccine???
Find out what the FACTS really are!
COVID-19 Vaccination + Painkillers : What’s Going On?
Some people have been taking painkillers BEFORE getting their COVID-19 vaccine, to reduce the injection pain and side effects like fever and muscle ache.
On the other hand, other people are saying that painkillers are dangerous if taken after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Recently, an Indian doctor died after being injected with a painkiller, after she received her first dose of the AstraZeneca (Covishield) vaccine.
So is it safe to take painkillers before or after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
Can You Take Painkillers Before / After COVID-19 Vaccination?
Here is the short TLDR answer :
You should NOT take painkillers BEFORE your COVID-19 vaccination, and if possible, try not to take painkillers after vaccination either.
However, if you feel really uncomfortable, you can take over-the-counter painkillers (preferably acetaminophen / paracetamol) with your doctor’s advice.
For those who wish to learn more about painkillers and COVID-19 vaccination, here are the facts…
Fact #1 : Fever + Muscle Pain From COVID-19 Vaccine Only Last A Few Days
Vaccines work by tricking your body into thinking that there is a real infection, triggering an immune response that causes “side effects” like injection site pain, fever and muscle aches.
These side effects are really your body’s natural immune response to any infection, and are therefore welcome signs that the vaccines are doing their jobs.
They also last only a few days, generally subsiding within the first 1-2 days. If they persist after a few days, you should seek medical attention.
Fact #2 : CDC Advises Against Painkillers Before COVID-19 Vaccination
The US CDC recently updated its guidance on March 16, 2021, to :
- avoid taking painkillers BEFORE getting vaccinated against COVID-19
- treat post-vaccination fever by drinking plenty of fluids and dressing lightly
- treat pain and discomfort with a cool and wet washcloth, and using or exercising the arm
- take over-the-counter painkillers after COVID-19 vaccination, with your doctor’s advice
Fact #3 : Painkillers Could Dampen COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy
Research have shown that certain painkillers may dampen the body’s response to vaccines. One study even showed that NSAIDs reduce the body’s cytokine and antibody response to an actual COVID-19 infection.
According to Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, MD, the division chief of infectious diseases at the University of Utah Health :
“It is not recommended to take a pain reliever before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, as it may theoretically reduce your immune response to the vaccines.”
For maximum efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should try to avoid taking any painkiller for the fever or muscle ache.
But you should not worry too much about the reduction in vaccine efficacy either. If you are feeling under the weather, it is fine to take over-the-counter painkillers with your doctor’s advice.
Fact #4 : Acetaminophen / Paracetamol Could Work Better
The CDC says that OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, acetaminophen (paracetamol), aspirin and antihistamines are safe to take after getting vaccinated.
If you want to be extra cautious, take acetaminophen or paracetamol – which are commonly known as Tylenol or Panadol or PCM.
Acetaminophen is the better choice, because it works differently from NSAIDs like ibuprofen, which a study on mice has suggested that it might lower production of antibodies.
The CDC itself recommends that pregnant women use acetaminophen (paracetamol) to treat post-vaccination fever.
Fact #5 : The Doctor Died From Anaphylactic Shock
The tragic death of Dr. Hari Harini was due to anaphylactic shock, likely from the painkiller – Diclofenac sodium, that her husband administered just hours before.
However, this incident has nothing to do with the COVID-19 vaccine she received, because :
- severe anaphylaxis is a known, if rare, adverse reaction of Diclofenac sodium,
- she started vomiting and fell unconscious within hours of receiving the injection.
- the incident occurred a month after she received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The evidence therefore suggests that her death was due to the painkiller itself, and not the vaccine.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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