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Side effects

how to prepare

COVID-19 vaccines can cause temporary side effects while they are building immunity, although some people don’t experience any side effects at all. The most common side effects are soreness, redness, and swelling in the arm where you received your shot. Other side effects include tiredness, headache, nausea, chills, fever, and muscle pain that occur throughout the rest of the body. 

For most people, these side effects go away within a few days. But we can’t all afford to lose a few days not feeling our best. What’s working for many folks is to plan ahead for side effects before (and if) they happen. Think about who could babysit, deliver a meal, or run an errand.

Preparing for a booster shot? Side effects are similar with boosters as they are with the first and second doses. Read more here

Illustration of bowl of soup, books, and tissue box

Match recovery time to the days you have off from work

Get your vaccination 1-2 days before your planned time off or weekend

Check if your employer offers paid time off (PTO) for vaccination

Get a free ride—for a shorter time away from your job

Uber and Lyft provide free transportation to vaccination sites, which may be faster than transit

Get advice on how to ask your boss for time off

Call the Maryland Court Help Center (410-260-1392), available from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., for a free call with a lawyer to learn your rights as an employee, or contact Maryland Legal Aid– services are confidential and they will not record your contact information without permission

Use a drop-in daycare center if you need help with your kids

See this list for Howard County locations

Ask friends and family for help

Plan to have a family member or friend stay with you or to have your child stay with them

Contact our community partners

Organizations in Howard County are here to help in all kinds of ways

Be there for each other

Stagger your vaccination appointment with that of a friend, and take turns helping each other

Use cool compresses and exercise to disrupt arm pain

If you have pain where you got your shot, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth and exercise or move your arm

Set up your sleeping area for maximum comfort

Before you get your shot: have fans or A/C (if possible) to help cool you if you have a fever, turn off or dim the lights, and prepare a light blanket that is not too heavy

Have over-the-counter medicine on hand    

Talk to your doctor about taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, asp irin, or antihistamines, for any pain  

Drink water

Drinking plenty of fluids is especially useful to reduce discomfort from fever, and dressing lightly helps too

Take a day off from cooking

Prepare a few meals for yourself (or order food, if possible) so you do not have to cook for a day  

Side effects

questions to ask your doctor or health care provider before getting vaccinated.

Print questions
What are my chances of having a severe allergic reaction?
If you have a history of allergic reactions to vaccines, ask: How can I safely receive the COVID vaccine? Should I receive it at a certain type of facility?
Family Planning
Is it safe for me to get the vaccine while pregnant or nursing?
Family Planning
Is it safe for me to get the vaccine while trying to conceive?
Preexisting conditions
How might my existing health conditions impact my likelihood of having side effects?
Preexisting conditions
What should I know about taking my medications before/after I get my shot?
Preexisting conditions
I already had COVID-19. Should I get vaccinated?
Preexisting conditions
Due to my auto-immune disease, do I need a special plan for vaccination? Do I need to consider getting an antibody test?
Preexisting conditions
Would you recommend that I seek out a certain vaccine due to my health conditions?
Teen vaccination
With vaccination now available for people starting at age 12, I am considering vaccinating my teen. What side effects should we plan ahead for, if any?
Other options
I need more time to make my decision. What can I do to stay safe while mask mandates are ending and the county is reopening?

Where to next?