DOCTORS say you might want to avoid painkillers before getting your coronavirus vaccine.
Some may pop paracetamol or ibuprofen before heading in for their jab in order to prevent pain.
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Doctors say you might want to avoid painkillers before getting your coronavirus vaccineCredit: Getty – Contributor
While this won’t do any harm, it is not necessary and could possibly dampen the immune response to the jab.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are being rolled out to Brits at a rapid pace.
And the uptake so far has been higher than experts ever imagined – over 90 per cent.
As millions eagerly wait to get their dose, doctors have suggested the best way to prepare.
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patientaccess.com said: “There’s some theoretical evidence that painkillers might alter your body’s immune response to some other vaccines.
“But we don’t even know if in these cases that translates into less effective protection from the vaccine.
“There’s no specific evidence that taking a painkiller before your COVID-19 vaccine will affect your body’s ability to build immunity.
“So advice not to take a painkiller before your vaccine is purely precautionary.
“It may make no difference at all, and if it does, it’s certainly not likely to be major.”
Dr Jarvis added: “Since you can easily take a painkiller if you do get pain, I don’t routinely recommend painkillers beforehand.
“However, if you’re worried enough about possible pain after your vaccination to be put off having it, you’re much better off taking a painkiller and having the vaccine than not having it at all.”
A scientific paper in 2016 described how painkillers at the time of vaccination is “discouraged by many” including some health bodies.
It said one study had found paracetamol “blunted the immune response to several vaccine antigens” in children.
And all studies that showed this effect, it was only when the paracetemol or a similar medicine to prevent a fever were taken at the time of the jab, and not afterwards.
But several other studies had shown no difference in antibody responses to vaccines between people who did and did not take painkillers around vaccination.
The paper concluded there is “no clear answer” as to whether pain and fever relievers hamper the immune response to “a degree that could result in vaccine failure”.
What side effects could happen after a Covid vaccine?
According to the NHS, most side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
- a sore arm where the needle went in
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
- You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.
If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
If you have a history of allergic reactions
The NHS says tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.
You should not have the Covid-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:
- a previous dose of the same vaccine
- any of the ingredients in the vaccine
The approved Covid-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg and those who have food allergies are allowed to get a jab.
Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
The NHS says all vaccines are thoroughly tested to make sure they will not harm you or your child.
It often takes many years for a vaccine to make it through the trials and tests it needs to pass for approval.
But scientists have been working at speed to develop a Covid jab in under one year.
This has been possible because of huge funding, global collaboration, and because there was high transmission of the virus globally to test it.
Experts have said “no corners have been cut” in testing Covid vaccines.
Once a vaccine is being used in the UK it’s also monitored for any rare side effects by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The World Health Organization has also previously warned against taking painkillers such as ibuprofen around the time of vaccination simply due to a lack of evidence of their benefit or harms.
In terms of taking pain relievers after your vaccine, Dr Jarvis said: “Of course, not everyone gets pain after the vaccine and if they do, it’s often mild.
“I had a slight ache in my arm for 36 hours after my Covid-19 vaccine but it certainly wasn’t enough for me to want a painkiller.”
Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director for Healthspan, agreed that the “significance” of taking a paracetamol pre-vaccine “is not known”.
However, she added: “NHS says you can take a painkiller such as paracetamol after the Covid-19 vaccine if you need to.”
Side effects such as a high temperature, pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle pain are all common after receiving a jab.
Experts say it is a sign the body is firing up immunity against the vaccine.
However, it won’t be for another two to three weeks before a level of protection against the virus is there.