Skip to content

CDC Says "Do Not" Do This Right Before Your COVID Vaccine

Do not take painkillers to reduce the pain of the vaccine, says the agency.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

"COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19," says the CDC. To that end, you don't want to do anything that interferes with your body's response. The CDC lays out clearly which medications to avoid before getting your shot. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


The CDC Advises You Do Not Take Painkillers Before Getting Your Vaccine

brunette taking a pill with a glass of water at home.

"Talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated," says the CDC. "You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally." But crucially, they add: "It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects." Read on to see when painkillers are OK.


The CDC Says the Painkillers May "Affect How Well the Vaccine Works"

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.

"For most people, it is not recommended to avoid, discontinue, or delay medications for underlying medical conditions around the time of COVID-19 vaccination," says the CDC. "However, your healthcare provider should talk to you about what is currently known and not known about the effectiveness of getting a COVID-19 vaccine when taking medications that suppress the immune system. It is not recommended you take over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen, before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent vaccine-related side effects. It is not known how these medications may affect how well the vaccine works. However, if you take these medications regularly for other reasons, you should keep taking them before you get vaccinated." 


The CDC Says Don't Take Antihistamines Before Your Vaccine to Prevent an Allergic Reaction

woman with medicine jars at home

Every medicine can cause allergies in some people. "If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination provider site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911," reports the CDC. "It is also not recommended to take antihistamines before getting a COVID-19 vaccine to try to prevent allergic reactions."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said This is the Best Vaccine to Get


Monitor Your Reaction to the Vaccine

Female patient smiling behind the face mask and with her eyes, while getting flu shot

You will be asked to wait 15 minutes after getting your vaccine, to make sure you have no allergic reaction. "If you had an immediate allergic reaction after getting a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get a second shot of that vaccine, even if your allergic reaction was not severe enough to require emergency care," says the CDC. "If the reaction was after an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), you should not get a second shot of either of these vaccines. An immediate allergic reaction happens within 4 hours of getting vaccinated and may include symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing (respiratory distress). Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in allergies and immunology to provide more care or advice."


Dr. Fauci Says You Can Take a Painkiller After the Vaccine

A man experiencing discomfort in his upper arm

Dr. Fauci says if you have pain in your arm after the shot, you can pop a few Tylenol or Advil safely. Just don't take anything, he says, that "suppresses an immunological response." So get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek