Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
UPDATE
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.
UPDATE
Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
Updated Aug. 5, 2022

COVID-19 vaccination helps protect people from getting severely ill with COVID-19. Side effects and adverse events could follow any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination.

Side effects: Not everyone experiences side effects. However, some people do. Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection. Side effects can affect your ability to do daily activities and should go away in a few days. If you would like to report a side effect, use V-safe.

Adverse events: Adverse events are rare but could cause a long-term health problem. If an adverse event occurs, it will generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. If you would like to report an adverse event, use Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

  • During clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collected data on each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines for a minimum of two months (eight weeks) after the final dose.
  • Currently, CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

Common Side Effects

On the arm where you got the shot:

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  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Throughout the rest of your body:

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

Severe allergic reactions after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. Anyone who had a severe allergic reaction after getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) should not get another dose of either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Anyone who had a severe allergic reaction after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine, should not receive another dose of that vaccine.

Learn about getting a different type of COVID-19 vaccine after an allergic reaction.

Helpful Tips to Relieve Side Effects

To reduce pain and discomfort where the shot is given

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  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
  • Use or exercise your arm.

To reduce discomfort from fever

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  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress lightly.

For any pain and discomfort experienced after getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin (only for people ages 18 years or older), or antihistamines.

  • It is not recommended to take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.
  • People can take these medications to relieve side effects after vaccination if they have no other medical reasons that prevent them from taking these medications normally.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child after vaccination.

After a Second Shot or a Booster Shot

Side effects after the second shot may be more intense than the ones experienced after the first shot. These side effects are normal signs that the body is building protection and should go away within a few days.

So far, reactions reported after getting a booster shot are similar to those after the two-dose or single-dose primary shots. Most side effects were mild to moderate.

The most commonly reported side effects were:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Pain at the injection site

When to Call a Doctor about a Side Effect

nurse

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that the body is building protection. Side effects can affect you or your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Contact a doctor or healthcare provider:

  • If the redness or tenderness where the shot was given gets worse after 24 hours
  • If the side effects are worrying or do not seem to be going away after a few days

Adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

If you or your child get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you or they might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.

Learn about getting a different type of COVID-19 vaccine after an allergic reaction.

If You Have No Side Effects

Reactions after getting a COVID-19 vaccine can vary from person to person. Most people in clinical trials experienced only mild side effects, and some of them had no side effects at all. Those people still had a strong response to the vaccine. Vaccination protects you from severe COVID-19 infection whether or not you have side effects after vaccination.

Reporting Side Effects and Adverse Events

V-safe provides quick and confidential health check-ins via text messages and web surveys so you can quickly and easily share with CDC how you or your dependent feel after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you would like to report an adverse event, side effect, or reaction from the COVID-19 vaccine, please use the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

fact sheet thumbnail - What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

What to Expect after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine

Fact sheet for healthcare workers to give after vaccination.

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