Recommendations Post-COVID Vaccination

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Getting the Covid-19 vaccination shouldn’t change any of your typical health, fitness, or wellness routines, or at least not for more than a day or two. Still, it’s reasonable to have questions about whether you should hold off on certain things, such as working out, drinking alcohol, or taking certain medications. Below are some of the common questions people have about what they should or shouldn’t do after vaccination related to their own health.

Medications

A common circulating question is whether it’s okay to take painkillers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin. In the big Covid-19 vaccine FAQ on Elemental, the CDC does not recommend taking any of these medications before vaccination for the sake of preventing fever, headache, or other aches. Physicians advise against it because limited evidence suggests it could blunt your body’s immune response.

Basically, wait until you get the vaccine, see what happens and how you feel, and if you experience fever, headache, or other pains, take your preferred painkiller/fever reducer then. There is no evidence to suggest taking acetaminophen or an NSAID after vaccination will negatively affect your immune response.

If you take any immunosuppressive medications, such as biologics for autoimmune diseases, or you’re receiving treatments for cancer, it’s best to check with your specialist (your oncologist, immunologist, rheumatologist, etc.) to find out if you need to skip any doses or wait to get vaccinated between cycles of medications or treatments. Not much data exists on the vaccine and immunosuppressive medication so far, so you’ll need to rely on your physician’s clinical expertise and what we know about other types of vaccines.

Exercise

No specific recommendations exist related to exercise after getting the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s all going to depend on how you feel. If you’re feeling tired from the vaccine, especially if you have muscle cramps or aches, skip the workout until they subside. Your body is telling you that you need rest, and your immune system probably needs the rest to do its job. If you have the stronger side effects of fever, chills, or fatigue, you should definitely wait until they pass before going for a run or doing a set of deadlifts. If you exercise at a class, it’s probably best not to schedule one in the first two days after each vaccine dose until you know how you’re feeling.

However, if you’re feeling fine, you can try physical activity in a day or two afterward as long as you start slowly and pay attention to your body. You might not have immediately felt any side effects, but once you start exerting yourself, you might find you tire more quickly or easily in the first few days after vaccination. Some physicians advise against any exercise in the first 24 hours after the vaccine, but that’s based more on a “take it easy and see how it goes” approach rather than any data showing that exercise could harm you or the vaccine response.

Drink Alcohol

Yes, you can, but it’s still not the best idea to consume alcohol in the first 24 to 48 hours after vaccination. First, you’re likely to feel tired or achy from the vaccine already, especially if it’s your second dose of one of the mRNA vaccines, so adding a toxin like alcohol to your body when it’s in the process of learning to fight off a specific pathogen could make you feel worse. Alcohol also contributes to dehydration, leading to headaches and muscle or joint pain.

Light Therapy After the Vaccine?

Of course, use red light therapy to improve your circadian rhythm to boost your recovery process. You can use red and infrared light if you feel your body sore and tired.

Build Immunity

Most of the vaccines require two doses. You aren’t automatically immune the day after you get your second dose of an mRNA vaccine. Your body needs time to detect the foreign substance in your body, identify it as an intruder, and build up antibodies to fight it. That takes about two weeks, so consider yourself truly, fully immunized two weeks after your second dose.