You may experience mild to moderate side effects after receiving the vaccine. Side effects typically go away on their own after a few days. The most commonly reported side effects are:
- Pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site
- Pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
The process of building immunity can cause symptoms. These symptoms are normal and show that your body’s immune system is responding to a vaccine. Other routine vaccines, like the flu vaccine, have similar side effects.
If you experience discomfort after the first dose of the vaccine, it is very important that you still receive the second dose a few weeks later for full protection.
The side effects after the second dose might be more intense or cause more discomfort than side effects after the first dose. In some cases, the side effects may be bad enough to interfere with your work and other normal daily activities for a day or two. Because the body has already responded to one dose of the vaccine, the second dose may cause a stronger immune response in your body. These side effects are expected and show that your body is continuing to build immunity.
If you are experiencing more intense side effects, stay well hydrated, rest, and consider over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if they are normally safe for you to take). Side effects are proof that your body is building immunity in response to the vaccine and will typically go away on their own within a day or two.
For in-depth information about the side effects of the vaccines, see the CDC’s report on the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.