Vaccine after-care: What to expect after you get the COVID-19 vaccine

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The province’s vaccine program is expected to move rapidly this spring and summer. As your vaccination schedule nears (or if you have a loved one who is about to get vaccinated), here are a few things to expect (and how to safely handle them):

  1. You may feel side-effects

    Just like with other vaccines and medications, you may feel some mild side-effects. These are normal signs that your body is building protection against the COVID-19 virus. Common side-effects include: Soreness on the area where the vaccine was given, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, or fever. Others may see swelling or redness in the arm area where the vaccine was given, or experience nausea, and enlarged lymph nodes (usually on the armpit). These reactions are usually mild to moderate and will go away on their own after a day or two.

    Tips to ease side-effects:

    • For painful or swollen areas: Apply a cool damp cloth or a wrapped ice pack to ease the pain.
    • To ease discomfort: Ask your health care provider if you can take pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). ASA (aspirin) should not be given to anyone under 18 years old.
  2. They will observe you for allergic reactions but these are rare

    You will be asked to stay for at least 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered. This is important in case you experience a severe allergic reaction, although this is unlikely. The immunization team will be observing you for reactions like hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, tongue or lips, etc. Those who have a history of allergic reaction to medicines, food and other substances may be asked to wait a little longer.

    If you experience an extreme allergic reaction after you’ve left the immunization clinic, contact your health care provider or call Health Links–Info Santé in Winnipeg at 204-788-8200, or toll free elsewhere in Manitoba at 1-888-315-9257. If it is severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department or health centre for immediate attention.

  3. Stay vigilant

    Even if you’ve been vaccinated and don’t get sick, you may still be able to spread COVID-19 to others. To reduce the risk, keep following public health precautions and restrictions. Continue social distancing (observing two metres/six feet), washing your hands regularly, and wearing a mask. Stay home if you are sick and keep practicing good cough and hand hygiene.

The pandemic finish line is in sight. Soon, we’ll be able to live normal lives again, travel and attend gatherings. Until then, we need to hold on a little longer, keep following health guidelines, and continue taking care of ourselves and each other.
Sources: COVID-19 Vaccine Reaction Fact Sheet, Province of Manitoba; COVID-19 Vaccine Questions and Answers, Province of Manitoba; Accessed March 15, 2021.

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Community Resources

Waiting for your turn? Keep checking this page: COVID-19 Vaccine Current Eligibility Criteria for immunization or go to #Protect MB to stay updated and book an appointment.

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