With the hard work of many scientists and health care workers, the COVID-19 vaccine is being given around the world. The vaccine helps your body build protection against the virus. This process can cause temporary side effects. The most common side effects from the vaccine are fever, chills, tiredness, headache, and pain or swelling where you got the shot. These side effects are normal and usually last just a few days. Some people choose to take OTC medications after getting the vaccine in order to ease side effects. These medications can be helpful if taken correctly, but can be harmful if taken in the wrong way or the wrong amount.
To prevent OTC medication errors, read the directions on the label carefully and follow them exactly. If you take more than one OTC medication at the same time, read the active ingredients list on the label to make sure they do not have the same ingredients. Many OTC medicines contain acetaminophen, which helps to reduce fever and relieve minor aches and pains, but too much can cause serious damage to your liver.
When OTC medication is in the home, it is important to keep children safe from them. Young children often mistake pills for candy and will eat them if given the chance. To prevent this, store medications up and away and out of sight, do not take medicine in front of children, and never refer to medicine as candy to get a child to take their own medicine.
If you have questions about side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, questions about OTC medications, make a mistake when taking OTC medications, or if a child accidentally gets into them, poison control is here to help. Pharmacists and nurses answer the phone when you call. The service is free, expert, confidential, and available any time, day or night. Call us at 1-800-222-1222.
Author: Jenna Valentine and Mary Jessie Floor, Assistant Health Educators, Utah Poison Control Center