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You went through the appointment schedule to sign up for a COVID vaccine, received your first shot, and waited the required three to four weeks for your second. But if that booster dose comes, be warned that symptoms could appear a few hours later.

Emily Miller, an intensive care nurse at OhioHealth Riverside, said she experienced side effects after receiving her second Pfizer vaccination at OhioHealth Riverside on Jan. 13.

She remembered feeling fine for a couple of hours, but by 5:00 p.m. she felt flushed and had hot flashes.

“And then, at midnight that night, I woke up with a fever, chills, and body ache,” Miller said.

Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, Infectious Diseases Systems Director at OhioHealth, said the symptoms are the response of your body’s immune system.

“If you have any of these symptoms, they reflect your body developing an immune response to the vaccine,” Gastaldo said.

Here is some information about what symptoms you may experience and how you can reduce the side effects:

What are the most common symptoms after your second vaccination?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms after the vaccinations include pain, swelling, fever, chills, fatigue, and headache.

Dr. Mark Herbert, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Carmel Health Systems, said the most common side effect people have experienced from vaccination is pain when they received their shot.

“This is a common symptom with all vaccinations, but the symptoms that are more common after the COVID vaccine are symptoms like fatigue, headache, and muscle pain,” Herbert said.

These symptoms are more common after the second vaccination, Herbert said.

Why can symptoms be more severe after the second vaccination than after the first?

The theory is that the first time it is likely to cause side effects because the vaccination is new to your body and it is the first time your immune system has been exposed to the antigen, Herbert said.

“The second time your body has already experienced this antigen and has already developed antibodies. When you get the second shot, your body reacts much more exuberantly,” said Herbert.

How Should You Treat Your COVID-19 Symptoms?

According to the CDC, it is recommended “applying a cool, damp washcloth over the sore area and exercising your arm” to relieve discomfort at the injection site.

Herbert said if you have a headache, muscle pain, fever, and chills, you can use Tylenol or other acetaminophen to relieve some discomfort.

According to the CDC, these drugs are safe to take after vaccination to relieve side effects, as long as you don’t have a medical reason why you can’t.

Medication should not be taken before vaccination to avoid side effects, as it is not known how the medication will affect the way the vaccine works.

Herbert said doctors will also recommend that their patients stay hydrated after vaccination.

“The increased fluid intake is believed to decrease some of the symptoms such as muscle aches, headaches, and chills,” said Herbert. “So it would make sense to drink 16 to 32 ounces of water after the shot that same day.”

Miller said she took an Advil and rested a lot after her vaccination.

“I think it was over in 24 to 28 hours and it wasn’t slow progress in feeling better,” Miller said.

When should you see a doctor about vaccination symptoms?

The CDC should call your doctor if your side effects don’t seem to have gone away after a few days, and if the redness or tenderness from the injection shot increases after 24 hours.

Herbert said if symptoms worsen within 48 hours, a patient should contact their doctor.

How can you report your symptoms?

The CDC recently developed a smartphone tool that can be used to check in patients after receiving the vaccine.

Gastaldo said one of the things people need to do after they have been vaccinated is to register through the CDC using the V-Safe tool.

He said that after a patient is vaccinated, they will be given a paper with a QR code. When the patient takes a picture, they will be redirected to the CDC website where they will be asked if they are ready to receive text messages from CDC so they can review the patient and see if there are any side effects.

The patient submits his information about the symptoms. Depending on what has been reported, the patient may receive a check-up call from the CDC.

Can you get COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine?

Yes. However, the vaccine does not cause COVID-19.

Herbert said they saw patients who contracted COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine.

“This is likely because they were exposed to the virus before they got the vaccine and they were about to develop an infection when they got the vaccine,” Herbert said.

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